Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Perfect Family Man

My dad turns 83 today. I'd like to say he was in his 60s when he knocked up my mom, but alas, such is not the case.

It's probably been more than 100 years since the term "Southern gentleman" wasn't met with Yankee sneers and visions of George Wallace, burning crosses and shrill Neil Young songs. But I can proudly say that my father, a born-and-bred Mississippian with a heart as big as the Delta, is a Southern gentleman in the truest sense of the term. He is southern, he is gentle and he is a man.

I grew up thinking he was the perfect family man. In a family with the sort of dysfunctional familial politics that could give the Corleones a run for their money, my dad was a rare voice of calm -- or so I thought at the time. The older I got, the more I gradually came to realize he was a chronic worrier who carried on his shoulders the hefty burden of being the provider for his big, unwieldy family. Such pressures would give him bouts of insomnia and he popped Excedrin like Tic Tacs, but he always did his best to put up a good front for his kids.

He hated the worries to which he'd become addicted, but he loved -- loved -- his family. Blessed with a sonorous Foghorn Leghorn voice and a gift for self-effacing humor, my dad brags on his children almost to the point of it being pathological. Once I even received a letter from a complete stranger telling me how I was lucky to have such a proud pop. It turned out my dad had struck up a conversation with the guy while waiting for a pay phone at a shopping mall.

Nowadays he doesn't worry nearly so much. He retired long ago, the children are all grown and his health (aside from the inevitable hiccups of age) is good.

And on this birthday, I want to brag on him just a bit: After all this time, he's still the perfect family man.


At 9:27 PM, Blogger BlueDreamer said...

Chase--That was as eloquent a display of admiration for a father as I've seen, and I can attest that your dad is deserving of such praise. Heck, if your friends can knock down walls in his house and he's still as gracious as the day he first met them, then he's truly a spectacular gentleman.

Happy Birthday, Mr. McInerney, and here's hoping for many more to come your way.

PS That Poe kid did it!

At 7:43 AM, Blogger RedDirt said...

Nicely done, Chase. Looks like you inherited the qualities of a gentleman too.

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous turtle said...

A few quotes (from memory) from Chase's dad;

"Aw, c'mon, now, we're gonna watch The Winds of War."

"That sounds like a dead zombie!"

"Is the whole movie gonna be like this?"

"I don't need this unpleasantess! I don't need it t'at-all!"

Hope he had a happy birthday, dude.

At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Sigmund Spinoza said...

You dad is one (only one) of the major upsides of having married into this clan.

Others Sunday brunch and include never having to eat leftovers after family meals.

At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Greta McInerney-Spinoza said...

Dear brother, that was a beautiful and well-deserved tribute.

You're so right about his worries .. and heaven only knows, his children (yea, I'm one) have given him reason to worry. But you noted the really spectacular part: he loves his family deeply, so he didn't see it as a burden. That's the essence of love.

Well, maybe there were some burdensome aspects as noted by frequent declarations that (as Turtle correctly quoted): I don't this unplesantness. Coincidentally, he stopped saying that after we got past our teens. Hmmm...

Chase, you're right about our family dysfunction, but it really isn't quite as bad as Corleones. We don't have murderers among us. Or Chase, is there something you're not telling us?

Anyway, as I have grown older (for my brother's sake I won't give any more details) I have learned an important lesson: there is NO such thing as a functional family.

Most importantly, our parents are truly spectacular.


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