Thursday, June 12, 2014

"Do you remember the day you realized your father was not perfect?"

circa 1971

"Do you remember the day you realized your father was not perfect?"

That was the question posed to me on a mountain bike ride years ago and it has nagged me ever since.  I will protect this friend's identity but she went on to tell me about that "fateful" day in her youth when she saw her father as a normal person...flawed and real.

When I sat down to write this post, I initially thought it would be about Bill.  He is an extraordinary father.  It's just that simple.  However, my mind continuously wonders to my own father, dad, parent Daddy.

Many of you know him...he is Oyster Bamboo's self proclaimed "GQ effect".

Bruce Ronald Diaddigo was born 70 or so years ago in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.  His parents were gritty and resilient Italian immigrants that worked in the local steel mill and fully embraced their European culture on a daily basis...Family, Food, Religion and Tradition.

Looking back with clarity (which improves exponentially as I accrue more wisdom), my parents provided my brother and I with a rather idyllic childhood.   Our weeks consisted of a set routine.  If we did not hit the road in search of another historical site, our weekends had a rhythm as well...often, my father would start a sauce on Friday night that became a big spaghetti and meatball dinner on Sunday after Mass.  Everybody was always together. It was simple. Again, looking back...I now know that was not an accident.  It seemed so effortless for him...devoted husband and father.

Side note:  For those of you that have eaten my meatballs...thank my father.

Of course, most father's have an endless flood of ridiculous advice encouragement and guidance.  Mine is no exception.  Here are a few of my favs...

Words of Wisdom

1.  Be a forest ranger.
2.  Never let a man treat you like his best hunting dog.
3.  Make your own way.
4.  You are the company you keep.
5.  Don't cry.  Fix it.  (editor's note:  when I did cry...he fixed it)

Dad and Mom on the usual...

(insert sarcastic tone here) This may surprise you but I gave my father bleeding ulcers and my mother a heart condition was a "handful" growing up.  I'll ask my father on occasion how he did not accidently "lose" me at one of the car shows we frequented in downtown Atlanta. It's a big place I could have cut me loose and never looked back. was the 80s.  There were very few cameras, zero social networking and more of an ambivalence towards mankind in general.  People got lost all of the time.  Dad always smiles and says he had a lot of patience.  Ahhh...the ever elusive patience.  Speaking of lost...just saying...

Except for that one time in college, my father has never really been genuinely angry with me.  Do the math...I am 43. 

That's a patient man.


He did not lose his patience with me...

Not even when I totaled a half a dozen cars. Seriously. 

Not even when I left the tub ON while trying to bath the cat and the bathroom landed in our foyer.

Not even when I repeatedly brought home stray animals (a few were even pregnant).

Not even when I came home with purple red pink white orange hair (or shaved my head).

Not even when I ran over his mailbox with his car while he watched and I kept going...long story.

Not even when I sent all of my loser friends to him for a job (whom he generously employed).

Not even when I maxed out the credit card he gave me on boots...repeatedly.

Two of the 6 my father did buy me an Alpha Romeo!  That's an accident just in wait...

I realize this paints a picture of a spoiled rotten child and an overindulgent father.  So be it. However, this is the same man who instilled a "go big or go home" work ethic in my brother and me .  He always says that respect is earned.  Work for it.  We do.

When I told my father that I was dating a professional cyclist (Bill's former career before going mainstream with bamboo fly rod building), he thought for a second and said "cool".  He seriously admired Bill's aspirations.  My father taught me that ambition is not exclusive of corporate culture and carries over in most aspects of your life regardless of your vocation. 

It's easy to understand that my father is enthusiastic about our bamboo fly rod making career choice today.  We do okay.  But my father was supportive of our  absurd commendable career path from DAY ONE.   For years, he may have been the only person on the planet that believed in Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods.  Don't get me wrong, we had a lot of people "cheering us on" but this man BELIEVED.  There is a difference and I know he made the whole journey easier for us.

Most importantly, my father (through his example and words) taught me to settle for nothing less than a strong, kind, compassionate and skillful husband.  Done.

So...back to that mountain bike ride and the question that has intrigued me for almost15 years...

"Do you remember the day you realized your father was not perfect?"

No. I don't.

 Happy Father's Day. I love you.