“The old folks,” as I like to lovingly refer to them, came to Reno last week from southern Arizona to visit my brother, his wife and I. The five of us spent almost a week under the same roof while they were here, and I started to think about how much these two people have done for my brother and me.
First of all, we have our mom to thank for any literary skills my brother, who is an attorney, and I have — something she taught us at home before either of us ever set foot in a classroom. Not that I think I am the world’s most fabulous journalist, but she must have done something right or I would still be trying to figure out how to spell my own name.
We also have our mom to thank for any degree of patience either of us has, but I’ll get to that later.
But what really came to light while my parents were in town is how much my dad taught me. Generally speaking, most fathers who have a son and a daughter tend to do more “guy” stuff with the son. This was absolutely not the case with my dad, and I could never thank him enough for all the skills he shared with me.
On the second or third night the parents were here, my brother, dad and I were roping in the back yard (yes, with lassos and a bale of straw and all that) when my sister-in-law came outside.
“Hey Jess, who taught you to rope,” she asked.
I caught my brother’s eye, and we both started to laugh. Almost simultaneously, we pointed at our dad and said, “That guy over there.”
Interested in learning a new skill, my brother’s wife immediately asked our dad to show her how to rope as well. As we watched our dad teach her about roping, my brother made a remark about his own “roping lesson” days.
“I’m having flashbacks to when I was 4 years old,” he said, which reminded me of all the things our dad began teaching us from the time we could walk.
By the time I graduated high school, I knew how to build a fence, change my oil, tie lots of fancy knots, fix a plumbing system, drive a tractor or a backhoe, rope a cow, shoot a gun … basically, you name it, he showed me how to do it.
Only recently did it really sink in how fortunate I was to have a father like mine, when a friend told me his dad never showed him how to do anything.
“I could probably figure out how to fix a clogged drain or run speaker wire if I really wanted to,” my friend said. “But nobody ever showed me how.”
I had just assumed everyone had a dad that taught them how to do handy-dandy projects and to ride horses and rope. After all, wasn’t everyone’s dad just like mine?
But maybe the world would be a better place if more fathers were like him.
I’m not saying my upbringing was perfect. One possibly, probably, maybe negative trait I inherited from my dad is a hot temper and a complete inability to believe I am ever wrong. Good thing mom was there to persistently remind me to be patient and calm.
All in all, I’m fortunate to have parents who care and showed a great interest in making sure I had the skills to make it in the world alone. We’d see a lot less problems in our society today if more parents were like that.
Now, in the style of our editor, Nathan Orme, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go see if I can get myself into some trouble somewhere.
Jessica Carner is a reporter at the Sparks Tribune. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.