Opinion

COLUMN: Trial and error make a great father

Andy Griffith, Fred MacMurray and Bill Cosby all set the tone for fatherhood in North America.

But in the end the only thing they had in common was they were unrealistic.

A more realistic portrayal of fatherhood came from Fred Gwynn in his role as Herman Munster, a fish out of water in so many ways, like many men facing fatherhood.

My father, perhaps only slightly more handsome than Herman Munster, was a fish out of water.

Like other fathers, Pappy stepped into his role without any training except what he experienced as a child — so he was already 30 years behind, but he kept trying.

Pappy lost his father at the age of 16, leaving him without a role model, or someone he could lean on when fatherhood got a little too serious.

Undaunted by the challenges, and sometimes despite himself, Pappy helped raise four children.

He did this by trial and error and eventually with a sense of humour.

He will tell you the exact proportions of each depended on the situation and which of the children was involved.

But he tried really hard. He had to because the four kids were more than a handful.

Like other fathers, Pappy wanted to give his children more than he had as a child — which wasn’t too difficult as he lived through the Great Depression. But work action, strikes and amalgamations all served to put a wrench in his plans.

Music lessons, swimming lessons, hockey, baseball, lacrosse, basketball, Boy Scouts, cadets, and so on.

That’s a lot of driving, a lot of time and a lot of money.

But Pappy did more.

He volunteered his time to these organizations, even though he was working extra hard to put food on the table.

Helping others, it turns out, is as much a part of Pappy as his impish grin.

Family, neighbours and strangers have all benefitted from Pappy’s generosity.

Today at 86 years old, Pappy gets around using a walker or a cane.

He’s learned to avoid revolving doors, just like he learned how to be a father, but he is still smiling.

And although Pappy is battling his third different cancer diagnosis, he will hold the door open for the next person and always with a smile.

His dedication to family and community with a smile are not easily matched, but do serve as a model for all fathers, and these lessons have not been lost on his children.

Happy Father’s Day Pappy and to all fathers.

Percy N. Hébert is editor of the Penticton Western News, and proud son of Norman Hébert

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