Pawlenty to Talk About: June 11, 2014


I really miss my dad. Cancer got him in March of 2013 at the age of 75 and it was not a pretty ending. I guess it went as best it could but I would gladly forget his last few days. I had a theory that having some time to say goodbye would be better than the sudden way death can take someone. As painful as it was, I was glad we had time to spend together that final year. 
My first memories of him were of this gentle giant that would put his big paw around you and make you feel safe from everything. The smell of Aqua Velva Ice Blue aftershave that he wore would permeate the safety zone … that smell to this day instantly reminds me of him. 
Raising a family of 11 on a cop’s salary was an amazing thing, but not dissimilar to a lot of stories out there … our parents really worked their tails off to make a living and raise a family. Their work ethic characterized their generation and they passed that on to us and, hopefully, we have passed that on to our kids as well. It’s a family tradition that makes parents most proud.
My memories of growing up were great. A close family with great parents guiding us along the way … we were blessed. After I had children, I joked with my dad about how tough it is to raise kids and how easy he had it. He would bust a gut laughing and say, “Yeah, right, it was real easy providing for this family on my salary.” I would further explain my theory by asking him “what would you say to me if I came up to you and said I am going out with my buddies and I need a five spot?” … I can still hear him laughing. With my kids, it seemed to be too easy to spoil them and I worried about them growing up a little soft.
As we 11 grew older, my dad started challenging us to the great art of debate. He lived for the lively discussion and would often lob some controversial subject across the table to see who would pick up the debate on the other side. It was so predictable that we would refer to it as “musky fishing.” At every family gathering, my dad would throw multiple “buzz baits” across the table and see who would hook on for the fight. Once dad had you on the line, he would play you like a pro. The rest of the kids would simply watch it all play out. Most “discussions” were easy ones that lasted only a few rounds but some were knock-down, drag-outs packed with high emotion. Many times, I took the bait and went the full 15 rounds. My siblings thought I was a very dumb “musky.”
As a result of these “discussions,” we 11 grew to be very independent, tough individuals … kind of a rite of passage I guess. I’ve got to give the “old man” credit for building us up through this process. We all became very capable individuals with the drive to get things done…and stubborn as a mule (just ask my wife).
As much as I did not want to be like my dad, I turned out just like him. I have an opinion about everything and think my opinion is right. I want to pass this knowledge to my kids … if they would only “listen.” I think it’s a product of age. We think we have paid the price, learned the hard way, and can save our kids so much pain and misery if they would just listen to us. Man, if I could just have a second back to tell my dad of this discovery, he would feel vindicated … and he should. 
When I try to tell my kids something these days, it is like looking in the mirror of my youth … their journey on the learning curve is well on its way. They are competent individuals cutting their own path in life now. That makes me a proud father … the best father’s day present I can get. So, if your fathers are still around, be sure to spend some quality time with dad this weekend, just beware of the buzz baits. 
I’m off to buy a bottle of Aqua Velva Ice Blue. I plan to crack the seal, take a big whiff and see my dad again … and wish him “Happy Father’s Day!”