A man and his dog … and his banjolele

 

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I’m wearing my dad’s shoes now and giving him advice. Or is it his necktie? I don’t know for sure. Boys will become fathers and fathers will become boys. Mothers will cry to their sons for hours on the telephone and sons will cover up the receiver so their mothers don’t hear them crying. Because now they’re the man.

Sons will leave long pauses in conversations. Thinking of chess boards. They will look right past you, through you, to the house where they grew up. They will be distant.

They will have trouble sleeping. They will realize some things about marriage. Mostly, it is choosing to love.

Sons will fumble through prepared speeches basically written on note cards to their fathers. They will say things like, “I hope you know…” and “I’ve been thinking…” and “For now…”

I hope you know I can’t bear to hear my mother cry like that. I will die before I let that happen again.

I’ve been thinking that you probably feel like you’re under a microscope. I know it will feel forced and awkward. Nothing you do will feel right.

For now, you got to get back to even. For now, you have to learn to be a man.

For now…I guess I’ll have to do.

Grandpa Strittmatter

My dad’s dad, my grandpa Strittmatter, was confined to a wheelchair or scooter for a lot of his elderly life. I don’t remember many conversations I had with him, but I do remember that he was always smiling and I admired that. He was a WWII Naval vet and my grandma would tell me that when she got up in the morning to make breakfast for their eight kids, he would read the bible to her and keep her company. I admired that too.

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