Rob Oxford: Help Dad? vs. Help, Dad!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Rob Oxford
Help Dad? vs. Help, Dad!
By Rob Oxford

Sometimes it's hard to admit but I was very much the Prodigal Son. The youngest of three boys, both my brothers joined the service out of high school. Both were platoon leaders and both graduated as top cadets of their respective units. 

Now how was I supposed to compete with that?

I didn't even join the service. I was close, I took the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery), passed the physical examination, I even met with a counselor to determine the direction in which I wanted to head, but sadly when it came time to take the oath, I chickened out. I'm not proud of it, it would have been good for me I'm sure, but that was 40 years ago.

My Father, on the other hand, was career military. That's what you did in 1937, you went to college or you defended your country. He defended his country. He worked hard his whole life and I admired him, but we knocked heads. That's what you did in 1977.

Growing up we were assigned chores. We made our beds with hospital corners before going to school every day, washed our own dishes, folded our own clothes, dusted furniture, took out the trash, the usual. We also worked outside in the yard. I believe that was my Dad's favorite spot, just as it is mine. Out in the yard with the birds, the worms, the trees and the weeds. Our lawn and flowerbeds were always meticulously well groomed. My Father insisted on it and my Mother appreciated it.

But helping Dad meant being given an assignment and completing it to his specifications. You didn't work alongside or with Dad, you worked for him. He had his own assignments. It would have been nice to work side by side and laugh, joke or ask questions while doing things together, but that just wasn't his style.

I believe his philosophy (although never directly expressed) was, "we'll get more done if we work separately". I also don't believe he was much into meaningless chit chat. I've adopted a similar style. Mine however is more out of necessity. I work a lot of overtime each week and there's much to be done on the weekends. So if I do this and my boys do that ... you get the idea.

My Father-in-Law is different and I am so very thankful. His name is Jim, but we call him Macko. Not Grandpa or Granddad, just Macko. Macko is retired and likes to tinker. There really isn't much he can't do. Now I don't think he particularly likes doing yard work, but when it comes to fixing things of a mechanical nature, car maintenance or installations of any kind, he is the Mack Daddy or "Macko-Daddy" and he and my eldest son do many of these things side by side. He has taught my son things I could never have taught him.

At first I was jealous of the time they spent together, I was always at work and they were always fixing bikes or washing cars, rebuilding motors or running errands. But I've come to realize that my son is the man he is today and I do mean "man", because of the time he has spent with his parents as well as his grandparents.

Both of my sons know that if they ever need anything, their Mom and Dad will always be there and so will their Grandparents. Much the same, I know that asking "Can you help Dad?", isn't as much fun as helping Macko and that's understandable. However, knowing that the words "Help, Dad!" are reserved for me and me alone makes it all worthwhile.


Post a Comment

We encourage the thoughtful sharing of information and ideas. We expect comments to be civil and respectful, with no personal attacks or offensive language. We reserve the right to delete any comment.
Facebook: Shoreline Area News
Twitter: @ShorelineArea
Daily Email edition (don't forget to respond to the FeedBurner email)

  © Blogger template The Professional Template II by 2009

Back to TOP