Dads – tell your kids stories. All kinds of stupid stories. Tell them stories till their ears bleed. About your childhood, when you first met the love of your life, your first broken heart. Tell them all the crazy things you did when you were their age, and all the stuff you wish you’d done and hope that they will instead. Tell them the story of the day they were born a million times over.
I never got the answers to all the stupid questions, so as soon as I was old enough, I travelled all the way to Cairo, Egypt to try and find them. All the while the answer was sitting down the hall from me – right there on the couch, watching CNN and puffing on a big ol’ Dominican cigar.
As an adult I stitched together a patchwork of stories from my father; how he left Egypt just before the Six Day War, how he used to commute to Victoria, Texas as a neuropathology resident, what went through his head the first time he saw my mother. I heard these stories in tiny increments between one and four in the morning – when he and I found each other awake and restless in the middle of the night. I’ve realized that I am much more like my father than I ever imagined and wish I’d written down every story he ever told me.
Over the last year, dementia and old age have overtaken my father. He’s a few months shy of 82, and (as he said it) has lived a long, full life. Now all he ever talks about is Egypt. And I think he is done. He’s not a perfect man by any measure, but I do wish I had more of him to measure men with.
So Dads – tell your kids stories. All kinds of stupid stories.