When told my marriage of 18 years was coming to a close my dad said, “When you come visit me this weekend I’d like to talk to you, I have some advice for you.” I’ve always gone to my dad for advice because I respect his opinion. In my eyes he’s always been a solid person with a voice of reason.
Over the years I think I can count on one hand, no make that two or three fingers, the number of times my father has offered me advice without my asking for it. One time was years ago concerning my family. He said something in the way of, “Don’t work too much and spend time with your wife and kids as much as possible.” Sorry I blew that one dad but I always wanted it to be that way it’s just that I guess I didn’t take your advice soon enough. Honestly I always did what I thought was the right thing for my family but..
The second time came more than 15 years later when I went to visit him. I was waiting in anticipation for his words of wisdom because unsolicited advice from him was so uncommon. I think there’s a lesson in that. In the days prior to the visit I thought about what he might say and how he could relate to my situation. My parents divorced when I was only one or two so I knew he could understand what it’s like to watch your wife walk away and to see your kids half the time, how much that sucks and how much you miss your family.
When I arrived we went for a ride in his work van to run an errand and the conversation started. The first thing he said was, “I’m really sorry things have gone this way for your family, are you sure there’s nothing that can be done?” I’ve never, as an adult, shed a tear in front of my dad but when he first spoke I had to pause before answering. It was dark so I was quick to wipe away the tear and then answer in a fake controlled voice. “I’m sure there’s nothing because the choice is not mine and I can’t make it not happen.” He then made a comment about wishing he could just talk to her and perhaps reason with her but I knew there was no point and it would not make a difference anyway. It’s not like a bomb had been dropped suddenly, more like a bomb was floating overhead for too long then finally dropped after more than enough warnings. Then came his fatherly advice to me.
With a smile my dad said, “Don’t worry too much about it. You will get over this, trust me, and besides I was just getting started at your age.” We both laughed.
There it was. The advice I had been waiting for. The words of unsolicited yet appreciated wisdom but certainly not what I expected to hear. The conversation quickly turned to talk about science fiction authors and corny jokes. I love you dad.