I don’t think of my Dad very often. He died in 1993 and I had to look it up to find the year of his death. We didn’t have a close, loving relationship when I was growing up. There were times I didn’t even like him very much. We had nothing in common. My brothers excelled in all sports (basketball, baseball, and football) and because my Dad was an athlete in school, they shared that with each other. I read books. I spent time alone, pondering life and my place in it. I spilled my milk at the dinner table. When my parents divorced (I was twelve), I treated it as just another life event. It really didn’t change anything for me. I carried on.
But looking at his life with the benefit of these many years between my childhood and now, I realize that he was a good man, and did the best he could with what he was given. Timothy Paul Beerthuis worked the same job for 40 years.He provided for a family of seven. We went to the beach as a family every Sunday during the summer. He was a reservist in The National Guard and the friendships he formed there stayed with him his whole life. He was the manager of his softball team from work, and their 4th of July cookouts at our house were epic and legendary. Our lawn was impeccable and he took great pride in its care and appearance.
There was a dark side, too. My Dad was an alcoholic and that contributed to the distance between us as I grew up. I ended up becoming an alcoholic but I never blamed him for that. I’ve learned that alcoholism is a disease, an inherited genetic defect. I crawled out of a bottle four years ago, and the last two years of his life were spent in sobriety.
Oh, I also inherited his left-handedness. And the habit of grinding black pepper onto everything he ate is being carried on proudly by me. His love of anchovies on pizza, however, went with him to the grave.
As a father myself, I hope my son can look back at my illustrious life, and say some good things about me. I did the best I could, too.
Happy Father’s Day to my Dad. And my Son. And me.