Honoring Thy Father…even when
My buddy is making his Planned Man debut with his first comment on the sixth Commandment—"Honor thy Father...". He shows what that Commandment means to all with eyes to see and without a whiff or sound of woe-is-me grief. Tweet
What’s a makes a Commandment? Everything on the list goes against the grain of the human animal.
Kevin’s dad wasn’t awful but he certainly could have been better.
His dad’s parenting style was best captured in Johnny Cash’s song "A Boy Named Sue".
Kevin, could have played victim, I guess. But if he had, he would not be my friend.
I have range when it comes time to friends. Sizes, ages, personalities and persuasions.
Last night, I had drinks, a cigar and a couple of games of ping pong with my buddy Kevin. Kevin is a character. An ace of a Guy. A clear thinker and graphic talker. He is good TV. I would pay $9.95 a month to watch Kevin watch TV and give a commentary to what passes his eyes and triggers his dooshay tongue.
Kevin is in the early years of fatherhood. He is 39 with two kids, a daughter who is 6 — smart as they come and with a strong “carelessly cut and and laugh while you are bleeding” vibe—and a 4-year-old son—a good-looking lug whose father’s ambition is that he learns his letters but thankfully has great hand-eye coordination and a tiger of a golf swing, My buddy is a salesman so he married up in good looks, wit and charm. To his wife’s credit, she snapped back after having two kids. By contrast, Kevin looks like shit.
Modern compassion is putting yourself in the shoes of another for just a moment — and immediately thanking God that it’s not you.
Modern compassion is putting yourself in the shoes of another — and thanking God that it’s not you.
Kevin is on the Omaha beach of married-with-small-children. Under normal circumstances, this is the shit-storm that leaves a mark on a man. It’s during this time of a man’s life, that you become a man-in-full. While you can’t say that you know war, your soul is prepared to accept it.
Now add Covid to it and it’s a shit-show of a sit-com—a shit-com.
A salesman who lived in the sky is grounded. No boozy time for Kevin, no talking shit and making deals and cementing recurring relationships. Zoom is better than the phone but it’s not the proper environment for sales. Virtual learning for your kids—which, in reality, is homeschooling—and still paying to get them out of my sight for a half-day price. And let’s not forget, a wife who has her own job, one best done outside house—but now she’s in the foxhole with you—processing, sometimes solving, some times contributing to the never ending, eternal-return comedy of errors.
In light of all that, I guess Kevin looks pretty good.
The night was a tour de force. We covered a lot of ground—much of it worth retelling. What most moved me is the he conversation that we had about the passing of his father. My buddy is making his Planned Man debut with his first comment on the sixth Commandment—”Honor thy Father…”.
What’s a makes a Commandment? Everything on the list goes against the grain of the human animal. We don’t come out of the factory set on “nice”. Our default setting is fault-worthy. Go down the list and own everything on the list. This is the nature of the human animal. We don’t naturally honor our God, or our parents. “We didn’t ask to be born!” is our fallen species’ battle cry. In short, we are a covetous animal—an adjective for the noun that is worth a Webster rendering of humankind, a covetous species “marked by inordinate desire for wealth or possessions or for another’s possessions.” Still can’t see us yet? Some common synonyms for covetous are acquisitive, avaricious, grasping, and greedy. This is humanity in fallen focus, natural inclination and habitat.
Are humans being capable of more? Yes. How? By following the Commandments and not giving into the covetous siren calls of our monkey mix nature. We are finally human because as a species we got into the habit of not listening to the signal in the noise of our nature. You don’t have believe in God to recognize that the Ten Commandments are what led us species out of the state of nature and into civilization. Also, that violating the Ten sets the stage for an extinction-level event.
Let’s get back to the reality that is a buddy-walking the Thou-Shalt and Thou-Shalt-Not talk.
You don’t have believe in God to recognize that the Ten Commandments are what led us species out of the state of nature and into civilization.
My buddy did not have the dad I was blessed to have had—a man who was easy to honor. Kevin’s dad wasn’t awful but he certainly could have been better. He was the kind of dad whose parenting style was best captured in Johnny Cash’s song “A Boy Named Sue”. He pretty made it clear to his son early on that no one cares, so go out and get what you need for yourself. My buddy was told that he had to be a Viking at tender age of 16. He could have played victim, I guess. But if he had, he would not be my friend.
In this selfish, woe-is-me, trail-of-tears, focus-on-yourself-and-what-you-need culture of ours, Kevin could have made the case that his father didn’t deserve the sacrifice that honoring him required. Again, my buddy is served up a shit sandwich. His dad had a nasty, unglued tango with Parkinson’s. For the past four years, he picked his father up off the ground countless times, responded to confused calls from him—and angry calls from him and his nurses. The irony of it all: a guy who worked his way through everything by himself from the age of 16 is called upon to shoulder the expense of his dad’s end-of-life exit.
And what does my boy do? He crushes it! He shows what that Commandment means to all with eyes to see and without a whiff or sound of woe-is-me grief.
The highlight of the evening was his retelling of a shared moment of joy between son and father. It was an episode from Cheers (a shared thing back in our day) where all the regulars at the bar were enjoying an inter-generational treat that came with a prize. In this retelling, tears of laughter gave way to tears for his departed dad. Just watch and you’ll get it the beauty of it all and the man that I am honored to have as a friend. (Video below)
Join me in raising a glass to this good son, man, husband, father and friend. Cheers, Kevin.