Thursday, June 12, 2008

2008 Father's Day rif.

I think there are several things that shape a man early on, the relationship with his father, the relationship with his mother and how his parents interact and interacted with each other, along with countless other people. But at the end of the day, at the core- where the Gas hits the's Dad that sets the tone in the man department-Sorry Rosie O'Donnel. That tone might scream in your ear like a siren or it might be some melodic chant from an epdisode of "30-something"- I never liked that show...
I thought those particular tv Dad's were wimpy....

My first father died of cancer at the age of 26. At the time he died, I was the same age as my youngest son is now...3 1/2. He's buried about an hour from here in New Jersey next to his mom. My mom remarried my 2nd Dad ;he and my mother raised my brother and me...and they've been married 41 years (see Shula's blog post).

I learned a lot of things from my father.....most of them I'd like to think were taught the right way but I know a few things maybe were a bit unconventional - let's just say my father can be a bit over the top on an issue or two or three. I am a parent now....and a newbie Dad at that-with a 3 & 6 year old and even I know this dad (parent) thing is a work in progress. My Parents are visiting from Florida, so I took them to my oldest boys T-ball game. My wife had to work and my youngest son was looking for worms to eat with some 3 year old girl he had been chasing around a tree. My boy strikes out first inning...and while "jogging to first base"(which my dad can't stand-jogging anywhere in sports), my son yells to me and everyone in the stands "why don't you ever practice pitching the ball to me".....Parents burst into mother stares in shock.....I looked at my dad...and we laughed our butts off. I then realized that not only had my 6-year already mastered the art of blaming his parents for crap.....he had completely forgotten to keep his eye on the ball- a lesson I had taught him on numerous occasions while pitching to him at home. His next two ups he got hits,it must of come back to him.

There is a guy that I used to work with in his thirties who still hasn't told his Dad he loves him.
Don't wait till the funeral. All my grandparents are dead...all in their 60's. My wife's grandmother...I used to talk about her on my radio shows(here and other states) lived to be 99 1/2. That's the exception to the rule.

So this Father's day my Blog rif is a simple one: dedicated to my Dad.(I said simple, not short)

My Dad was and is a Man Force......not always right, not perfect, but in my corner and ready to kick some ass and always suggesting that I do the same in just about every situation short of a church disagreement with an eldery nun.....yes over the top...but whatta gonna do

After his 2 years in the Army he sailed on the great lakes...on the sister ship of the Edmund Fitgerald...(some of you OLDER boomers might remember the song).

My dad taught us how to shake a man's hand..."Not like a limp fish"

He taught my brother and me a trade..." If you know how to do anything in construction you'll never go hungry"

We know our way around the sea and boats and cars and tools and grills and manly stuff and I love the smell of paint thinner and gas and old hardware stores and old cigar smokin guys telling world war two stories because of my dad( I like the cigar smell..not the old guy smell)

My dad taught me to respect a persons uniform and rank, "learn a person's rank...they earned it,
if you see a man or woman in a US Military uniform-they're willing to go somewhere and die or get some body part blown off for you better respect that"

My Dad's temper was legendary in my hood but he was the first guy shut down the lawn mower for an hour to rescue a bird's nest or move a bunch of bunnies(not playboy bunnies) to a safer place.

Today there are grown men afraid of power tools...not in my dad's world.

He taught us there is no such thing as a fair fight... he was right.

I only saw my father cry twice...once was when his 46 year older sister died of cancer this day I don't think he knows I saw him on the riverbank..but I knew that day something terrible had happened

My dad could of made a big deal about HIS last name and not have let me keep my late father's but he didn't.(my brother-his natural son has his last name)He never called me his step son, and I never called him my step dad....Now I have two boys of my own to carry on my last name.

My father said if I do drugs or come home drunk He'd rip off my arms a beat my head with the time I believed him....I often wondered...would my arms or head hurt worse...and if I was REALLY DRUNK...would it matter?....I never tested his theory.

I've never tried an illegal drug, My first beer was with my father on the back porch: the day I turned 18 the legal drinking age in the state of North Carolina.

no need to share with you the Parental sex talk we got...needless to say....You didn't get people pregnant out of wedlock in our house.

My Dad...has basic rules. Don't lie, don't steal...don't mess with his sons or wife...

There were NO time out chairs in my house....although my dad could of used one.....hey that's a great gift idea

"be home by midnite and it better not be in the back of a Police car"

When my mom called Easter Sunday 2006 to tell me dad was in the hospital with chest pains, my chest tightened.....that wasn't supposed to happen to this rock hard machine of a man.....
What the ??
what if I don't have time to sort things out and raise my sons and show him my Dadness ?
Fortunately it was not a heart attack...and now he's healthier than most health club babyboomers and he still gets nice and ticked off in traffic!

We always ate dinner as a matter what anybody's mood was...Leave it to Beaver may have left the building....but head of household was "in da house"

My dad is not a schmoozer or a networker...but he'll talk about anything with anybody..he doesn't care if he get's a business card out of it or not..he just likes people and likes to talk with 'em. Now that I think of it....I'm not much of a buttkisser either....(you'll have to check with some of my former bosses on that one)

My Dad has always been proud of us...even when we got our butt anything.

As long as we told the truth My dad would tell a principle to take a flyin leap...but on the other hand he also told teachers "feel free to knock the crud out of Kenny or Keith if they give you any lip'

We always had someone to throw us a football , a baseball, or carve a pinewood derby car with
...and he did it at the end of his construction day-he'd just take off his work shoes and put on sneakers.....

I built sets in the drama club...and mine rocked....because My dad & I could build stuff

My father would say: at the end of the day those two arms hanging from your body(the ones he never ripped off) and your brain will get you the job......sooner or later "who you know will only get you so far...and even they'll see if you know or don't know your stuff"

Once at football camp,it was helmuts only this practice- I knew these two guys were gonna probably kick my butt after the game,
..I was scared the whole dad's advice: "whatever you do don't take off your helmut and hit the biggest guy first" They should of kept their helmuts on....especially the tall guy. lol

My dad took me to see PATTON at the drive-in when I was 10. My MOTHER was not happy.
Patton...the father of Kick-assery !...hey there was no NEMO or INCREDIBLES or TOY STORY in 1972

My dad is now 2 years younger than John Mccain..
and I'm 2 months younger than OBAMA

.....and my quest is only beginning to be a dad .. a REAL DAD.....flaws and all.

I'm glad I still have my dad ..

If you still have your dad, I hope you're glad.

To the Fathers out there Good Luck & God Speed


AnnoyedOne said...

Wow Ken! Amazing story of your dad. I unfortunately no longer have my dad. Holidays and Father's Day are really rough for me. I think about him every day and wish he was still here with us. I hold on to all the memories and share them with my kids. I am lucky that he was able to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. He died exactly 2 months after my husband and I got married. I'll never forget him! My oldest sons got to spend some time with him, but my youngest was born after he died. I hope I can pass on all of the stories to him and let him know that his grandfather loves him so much. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

Ken Matthews said...

thank YOU and be well

FlaNCer said...


Awesome description of our Dad. A man of honor, integrity, honesty and definately no s*#t. We are truly lucky to continue to have him in all of our lives. I've had many people state that I have "confidence" throughout my life- and that I attribute to Dad. He has confidence. About where he stands, what he says, what he does, and where he is going. Not machismo (for pussies) but CONFIDENCE. I've yet to meet anyone to compare to, and I'm not being biased.
I like the Rosie statement. It speaks volumes. A child needs a Dad, and not just any Dad, but one like ours. Unfortunately there's not enough of him to go around, but fortunately for us, he's all ours.

Over the top. But on an even keel. And speaking of keels- Dad was on the John Sherwin, which IS the sister ship to the EF. The JS is tied up for grain storage on the south side of Chicago to this day. When Dad came up last summer we checked it out on-line and pulled up the pics. He showed me where he stood in 1963 down in the boiler room. It was a trip for sure. He was drafted in '63 OFF the boat- and pissed (he was making good coin- albeit in 130 degree heat). He missed being shipped to Nam by a couple months and has friends on the wall. His test scores were so high they wanted him to fly Hueys. Instead he opted to fire mobile nuclear rockets. That decision could be why I'm here. Strenght without intelligence is wasted. And Dad definately has both.
He talks of emptying an entire box car full of coal with a shovel with Grandpa and Great Grandpa BEFORE school like it was nothing. Even though they did it every day, he'd rather laugh about the time he threw the coal truck in the ditch and Grandpa tweaking out. (Dad was 13). Hard work- I mean REAL hard work- never phased him. That would explain the fact he's definately the strongest man I've ever seen or will ever see in my life. Remember his "tests" of strength?? Freakin mind blowing. (OK- this one is for the uninitiated--as in the bloggers reading this): Take a sledgehammer, stand up perfectly straight, tilt head back. Grasp sledgehammer at the END of the handle as the head rests on the ground. Raise SH strait out with one hand as you raise arm. Keep SH straight out (horizontal with ground)at full arm extension, then with wrist only, tilt end of SH so that hammer end just barely touches the tip of nose on tilted back head- and then in same SLOW fluid motion- with arm extended straight out upon return, place Sledge Hammer on ground as in beginning position. I saw this done several times- and we never owned a whimpy 8 pound sledge. Let's see the 30 somethings try that.
On my fathers 68th birthday last July, we were doing one armed push ups and he whipped my butt. I turned 40 last week. Needless to say I'm a very proud son.

I too am very proud of the fact that my parents actually read, understood, and stuck to their marriage vows. And life is full of thick and thins, betters and worse, but they stuck it out and continue to do so. For that I am greatful and proud of both of them. Neither of my parents are quitters- and you mention "Unconventional"- well in this day and age- not quitting IS unconventional.

The "bunnies". I remember that. Coming from someone who could destroy Mike Tyson we learned you never hunt on Sunday, you never hurt any animal or insect, you treat everyone as you wish to be treated, you respect your elders, you love your country, your family and your God. And if anyone messes with the above three, feel free to mess them up. Really bad.

The man is a walking core values store. And has the internal and physical strenght to back them up. More should be like him.

I too remember those few times Dad cried. Especially after our Aunt died. He was still in his thirties- well younger than we are now. A lone figure sitting on the river bank. (200 yards away- man our front yard was big). And I remember you going down there while I stood up by the garage next to the GTO. I was around 10, yet I see it as yesterday.

Power tools, vehicles, firearms, machinery, it's easy when you are confident. Confident in the fact that you were and continue to be taught the right way. I see so many people my age that shudder at the sight of a chain saw or shotgun. A hammer drill or a Skil saw. A shovel for Christ's sake. When I hear someone say they HIRED someone to build a new front porch- I twitch, and then thank my Dad that I can do it better myself and in less time.

The best way to describe my Dad to those who never met him is picture Clint Eastwood with a smile- a book in one hand and a tool in the other. And remember... the .44 is under the jacket.

And let's all realize one thing (before I close). Behind (or in our case-NEXT TO) every strong man is a stout woman. And believe me- Our Mom Kicks Ass. To you bloggers- picture Angelina Jolie at 69, but shorter.

Oh- and I got all the looks.

I thank God every day for my family!


3BG said...

Great story Ken. There aren't many men like that left anymore. we could use a few