Crimes of Our Fathers

I had a disturbing call recently with a close friend, who lives in Europe. Her husband, one of the nicest people I’ve ever known, is having some significant health issues brought on my work-related stress. I’d seen him a year ago at Christmas and he seemed to be on the mend, but since then took a turn for the worse.

Owning a Bar/Cafe in Italy is a 7-day a week, 362 day (they close two days of the year) job.
Our children don’t want those jobs either.

Through it all, his wife and friends are there for him, but his two, now adult (mid, high 20’s) children, are MIA (Missing in Action).  Adults in their mid-20’s can get caught up in their own lives and certainly have their own angsts, but this isn’t that.

These two children have decided that their father is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. The youngest one hasn’t spoken to her father in over two years.

What’s the crime that so unspeakable?

He worked hard, while getting a college decree, to enable him to have higher paying jobs to provide for his wife and two daughters, including putting them thru university.

It seems in our ever more indulgent society, his daughters expected him to be there more for them.

Sorry, I have no idea what that means. I saw my father, late evenings and on the Sundays, he wasn’t still working. While some of those Sundays had a planned trip, with us going someplace to visit friends . Many were spent waiting impatiently for him to finish fixing the car or washing machine or something else of necessity.

But thru it all, I understood that my father showed how much he loved us by how hard he worked. It wasn’t about face time or sitting on his knee. It was about never having to worry about whether we would have something to eat or a place to live. Besides, if he got home earlier in the evening, we’d have to watch something stupid on TV or listen to classical music all night (which is what we did on those Sunday visits, but at least we got out of the City!)

I asked my best friend, who is also European, what he thought of this.  He said, he never saw his mother because she was working all the time. But in just those words, I gleaned that he fully understood that all he had now, his business and personal success, was because of his hard working mother.

We of the west, expect things to come to us, whether we work for them or not. It is one of our fundamental problems with education and one of the reasons for our dismal success rate in public schools and colleges. And everyone: students, teachers, administrators and politicians own a piece of that failure.

My Vietnam time is coming to an end in a couple of months. So, I am ever more keenly aware of what’s going on around me. Savoring every moment, every observation, like it will be my last, as it will be soon. Thus, I notice the streets packed at 07:00 until 21:00 every day. What are people doing? Working, going to school, doing those things that they must do to be successful, to be happy, to survive.

Vietnam calls itself communist or socialist, but it is less socialist that any European country or even the USA for that matter. It’s a one-party state, but that’s about it. There is no safety net. Children understand that if they do not work hard in school, they will not get a decent job. Adults understand that it’s work or starve.  Simple, maybe harsh, but effective.

That’s one of the things I both appreciate and admire about Asian cultures. They seem to be not so far removed from the basics of life. While we in the west, the USA and Europe, seem to ever more indulge ourselves in a fanciful world in which we do nothing, but want everything. We base our very existence on false stereotypes that never existed in the first place.

But it’s hard to have conversations about real life with our children, when we spend all our time arguing whether it’s a wall or a fence and then make millions suffer to make our nonsensical point.

Our children learn from us.

 

Author: Richard on Dauntless

I’m an eclectic person, who grew up in New York, lived overseas for many years and have a boat, Dauntless, a 42 foot Kadey Krogen trawler yacht. Dauntless enables me to not only live in many different parts of the world, but to do it in a way that is interesting, affordable, with the added spice of a challenge. Dauntless also allows me to be in touch with nature. As the boat glides through the ocean, you have a sense of being part of a living organism. When dolphins come to frolic, they stay longer if you are out there talking to them, watching them. Birds come by, sometimes looking for a handout; sometimes grateful to find a respite from their long journey. I grew up on the New York waterfront, in the West Village, when everything west of Hudson St. was related to shipping and cargo from around the world. For a kid, it was an exciting place of warehouses, trucks, and working boats of all kinds: tugs and the barges and ships, cargo and passenger, they were pushing around. My father was an electrical engineer, my mother an intellectual, I fell in between. I have always been attracted to Earth’s natural processes, the physical sciences. I was in 8th grade when I decided to be a Meteorologist. After my career in meteorology, my natural interest in earth sciences: geology, astronomy, geography, earth history, made it a natural for me to become a science teacher in New York City, when I moved back to the Big Apple. Teaching led to becoming a high school principal to have the power to truly help kids learn and to be successful not only in school but in life. Dauntless is in western Europe now. In May and June, I will be wrapping up the last two years in northern Europe, heading south to spend the rest of the year in Spain & Portugal. Long term, I’m planning on returning to North American in the fall of 2017 and from there continuing to head west until we’re in Northeast Asia, Japan and South Korea, where we will settle for a bit. But now, my future lies not in NY or even Europe, but back to the water, where at night, when the winds die down, there is no noise, only the silence of the universe. I feel like I am at home, finally.

3 thoughts on “Crimes of Our Fathers”

  1. There are times when we make mistakes… sometimes very significant ones. We need to learn from ours and others’ “errors” (multiple-millions are right now), don’t allow them to be repeated, correct those that have been made and provide a more fulfilling model for our children and society at large to hold near and dear… Imagine.

  2. Richard, I have followed your blog for a year or two at least. I am a 66 year old retired business owner. I have always admired your writing skill as well as your insight regarding all things boats. But this blog was maybe the best of yours that I have read. Keep up the great work. Blessings, Jamie

    Galatians 5:22

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