My First Father’s Day

Picture of Bruce and Jeanne Lang, circa 1950s, Toledo, Ohio...

For the first time I am not alone on Father’s day.

Instead of jealousy, loss, self pity, lonely cursing the Hilton family…

I LOVE Father’s day.

For the first time, I am celebrating Father’s day –with my father.

A man I never knew, but know so very well now, and know more so every day.

A man stolen from me and my mother, by a Hilton pool.

A man who had the best lawn on the block.

A man who grew so many tomatoes, the neighborhood dinner plates served his garden nightly.

A man who taught me how to ride a bike, that was too big for his 5 year old son that Christmas.

A bike so big I rode it, until– well, I still ride… and still ride now.

A man who never knew his own father, and never hated him for not knowing him.

A man who married his high school sweetheart.

A man my mother bragged, that she stole, from the prettiest girl in school.

And she did, and I am here today because she made him ours.

A man that made a secret patio from love, for his wife of twenty years then.

A piece of that patio, just one brick, I now cherish a piece of.

The only thing I own that does now own me too.

A man that left me a garage full of tools, tools some his father had left him.

Now today, I use my tools, but with the skills gleaned from, the memories of a 4 year old boy.

A man who was the nicest guy anyone ever knew, and everyone wanted to know.

A man that taught me not to take shit from anyone, but to take most of it smiling.

And when I had too much shit, where to hit them where it hurt.

A man that taught me how to shoot a gun, how to aim, how to breath, squeeze.

I still protect my home with those skills today, forty five years later.

So now, as I water a new lawn of Kentucky Blue Grass –his grass, not only mine.

As I water my garden, his garden, our garden, I am proud to honor my father.

For the first time, I can feel him near, looking over my shoulder.

Tired, muddy, garden sown I am… today. I feel good for the first time in my life.

For the first time I know I am the man now, he always new his son would be.

He made me better.

Some days I am worse, some days he would be ashamed of me.

I am my father’s son and a man, that I hope he would be proud of.

As he drowned in that faulty Hilton pool, I know he wondered…

Would I feed his dog?

Would I water his grass?

Today, Father’s day, we both rest easy for the first time in our lives.

As I water the garden and the Kentucky Blue Grass, he lives now, closer to me than when he was alive.

Bruce T. Lang, my father, has a son, that he would be proud of.

And I am SO VERY PROUD to be his son.

After all this time, we finally know each other well.

And I look forward to knowing this real man, well, and more. As I find what he taught his son, never knowing his teaching, would allow me at fifty years old to teach myself more.

Happy Father’s day Dad, for the first time.

Bruce T. Lang – 1930 – 1970 – Toledo, Ohio.