Father’s Day, What a Concept!

Unemployed again (sung to the tune of Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again”) Unemployed again, just can’t wait to be unemployed again.  My life’s moaning to my friends – I can’t wait to be unemployed again!”  Just kidding, family who expects me to contribute in a major way, besides the change I pick up outside the Chick Fil-A drive-through window before they open up.  I’m not ready hang up my Willie Loman smile and shoe shine just yet.

After about five weeks of no feedback from leadership, I sounded out three colleagues at lunch about how they thought I was doing, and they were unanimous and enthusiastic in their praise.  That was a boost for sure.  It felt like it was going well, but I guess I was starting to get a little uneasy.  Two days later – the Friday before Memorial Day – at the end of the day I got the “Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord spilt ya” treatment from one of the owners.  No real explanation, other than several iterations of “You are not a fit.”  Ouch.  I have a Curly Howard “I was a victim of soicumstances” theory that would be boring and pointless to the 99.998% of Americans who sip their coffee and note a story on page 4 of their morning paper about 300 people crushed in a mud slide in China, do a mental “bummer”, and then go to the funnies to see what that crazy Judge Parker is up to next.  The funny thing is I really enjoyed the work itself, so in less than two weeks I am taking the A+ certification exams, which upon passing makes me attractive to someone like Geek Squad, although in an interview they would eye my size and mentally calculate the negative impact on gas mileage in those little cars.  It might be time to try the Steve Martin diet, which after eating one egg in three months you are still too heavy, try lopping off a limb to make those scales “tip just right for you.”  Worst case scenario I can do technical support desk work.  The Indians have offshored all that work to this country, so I can sit with my headset on and answer calls from New Delhi in my Midwestern accent “Technical support.  This is Patel.  How may I frustrate you?”

It is amazing how the Bible comes through at the right time in low moments.  One morning I was pondering recent events and my Scriptural reading took me to Sirach, chapter 2.  Now I understand that my Protestant friends don’t have Sirach – one of the so-called Deutro-Canonical books – in their Bibles.  Too bad, a lot of good stuff in it.  I envision a rabbi played by Judd Hirsch or Jackie Mason sitting at the city gate dispensing wisdom like “Worse than a fly up your nose is a nagging woman!”  But this really hit home when I needed it (Sirach 2: 1-6):

My son, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials.

Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity.

Cling to him, forsake him not; thus will your future be great.

Accept whatever befalls you, in crushing misfortune be patient;

For in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.

Trust God and he will help you; make straight your ways and hope in him.

Powerful, fatherly words.  And in a world where people’s homes are being crushed by tornados, people are getting blown up by suicide bombers while peacefully shopping or attending funerals, and Honey Boo-Boo gets more attention than Jesus Christ, my problems don’t amount to the proverbial hill of beans.  And besides, I got some really great experience in my brief time with my last employer, and made a truly good friend.

Today is my day, Father’s Day.  My worthy wife and I are approaching 33 years of marriage, and she is everything a man could want in a spouse.  She keeps me on the straight and narrow, and those legs go all the way up (Curly Howard barking noises).  I have three really great sons, two of whom are married and have united the Walker family to great families: my daughter-in-laws are incredible gals, and their parents are wonderful people.  I have a grandson who is everything you could wish a 7 month-old child to be, and I got to spend last week with him in Orlando.  I rediscovered something I forgot: at about 6 months of age a baby’s grip strength is equivalent to the bite pressure of the average great white shark.  He got into my chest hair and the EMTs had to bring the Jaws of Life to free me.  So other than the unexpected defoliation, it’s really all good.

What does it mean to be a father in our culture?  Since the paternalistic 1950s he’s evolved into an incompetent booby, an often clueless figure of fun.  There are academics and the like pontificating that fathers are superfluous, that two lesbians are actually a better child-rearing situation without the hard-drinking, potentially violent brute around.  I’m thinking again about Scripture, and two great fatherhood models.  One is from 1 Maccabees 2, Mattathias of Modein.  Unfortunately for Protestants, this is another book not in their Bibles.  Too bad, because reading it is like being in a Mel Gibson-directed movie, a Braveheart in sandals.  1 Mattathias 2 shows that sometimes a dad has to kick some ass, that principles supersede any potential cost.  Of course one has to keep in mind the context of times: there was no police force in ancient Judea, so “police chief” was one of the fatherhood roles then.  Fortunately for us today we have police officers hiding everywhere in our communities nabbing all those miscreants going 47 in a 45 MPH zone, or drinking sodas exceeding 16 ounces.  The other father on my mind is the prodigal son’s father, the father of inexhaustible love and mercy.  Wow, two models of fatherhood very challenging for me to live up to, in my weakness and my sin.  It’s so easy to “let things slide” when speaking up against wrong will exact a cost.  So easy to be cold, defensive, and unforgiving when crossed.

Lord, help me to be more like You in Your brief time on earth: steadfast and unrelenting in proclaiming the Kingdom, unflinching in speaking truth to power; steadfast and unrelenting in Your compassion and love.  And I hope I am gifted with some new socks today. For this I pray, amen.

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2 Comments on “Father’s Day, What a Concept!”

  1. Stan Sikorski Says:

    Tell me where these JERKS live and I will send one Guido and a Vin Diesel to kick some ass! Tom, your very words here prove how INTELLIGENT you are, your son’s achievements are a toast to your loins! PLEASE BRING AN EDITED VERSION OF THIS BLOG and give it to the peckerhead that interviews you and say “This is who I am” plus “I’m technically shrewder than most 20 year olds!” Damn man, I will send a prayer to the BVM and say “Que pasa con Tom?” Stan

    _____


    • LOL Stan. Your support warms me, but sending Vin Diesel might not be the most appropriate Christian response. Maybe sending Jerry Stiller in character as Frank Costanza to hector them might be more fun and keep me out of trouble with both the civic and ecclesial authorities. (What is WRONG with you people!?)


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