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What mark has your father left upon you?

Asked by FB (506 points ) August 9th, 2009

Fathers are powerful creatures, indeed.

The enormous decisions they make and all of the memorable gestures they unleash in life, become towering events to us as children, which in turn, like it or not, inform our entire life.

Intentional.

Unintentional.

In a good way, and then again, sometimes, in a not so good way.

My father was an effervescent soul. He thrived on people responding to those qualities within him. So the more he got back from everyone, the more he put it out there. His voice. His spirit. His heart. Everything. Completely fearless. And then, at the pinnacle of his life and career, he rose in the ranks to become an administrator. The competitiveness of that slippery slope destroyed his authentic qualities. Everyone was out to take him down. Every action, every word, every beat of life became an opportunity for the people around him to diminish his whole being.

So, in his final moments of gallantry as my mentor, he observed my career as I poorly navigated the difficult peaks and valleys of interpersonal relationships. I inherited his most prized commodity – effervescence. Yikes! And so, curiously, in the moments prior to his life arriving at an abrupt and tragic ending, he passed these words on to me: “…keep a simple air of mystery…” Advice? Warning? Challenge? Directions? What? Or, simply, a mark.

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19 Answers

filmfann's avatar

Today would have been my fathers 79th birthday. He passed back in 1983. That this question finds me today is like a little hello from him.
My father was big in auto racing, and worked on a lot of pit crews. He was a racing expert, and was an advisor on the stunt driving in the movie Bullet. Mostly, tho, he was a tire man, and worked very hard, putting in 10 hour days, 6 days a week.
My Mom used to take us kids down to his work, and we wouldn’t tell him we were there. We just all watched him work from across the shop. My Mom doing that instilled a work ethic in all of us.
My Dad loved watching sports, and would sit on the couch on Sundays eating popcorn with Parmasion Cheese and cut bits of Salami.
I rarely saw him raise his voice to my Mom. He was very strict with us, when we were young, but he softened after we hit 18, which was about the time of his first heart attack. I am not sure which caused what.
I owe my Dad everything. I was lucky to have such a father.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

The father of my heart will always be my Grandfather, he raised me for my first 5yrs. If I can become even ¾ of the person he was or have a partner similar to him then my life will be all the richer. He taught me about and showed me everything that has made my life bearable, beautiful and worth living for and worth trying to share with others.

PerryDolia's avatar

My dad was a Type A personality all the way: driven, impatient and rude.

For the first half of my life, I thought this was cool and an effective way to “get ahead.”

I have spent the second half shedding that influence. I think patience and caring are much more effective and a whole lot more fun.

hug_of_war's avatar

I have a bump on my knee where he pitched a baseball too low. But I guess you mean in a more metaphorical way.

My father has his faults, but he is a good man. One of my favourite stories to tell is how his father had a debilitating stroke when my dad was in his early twenties and he was the only one of his four living siblings to step up and he is the only one who consistently visited my grandpa for over 20 years, he’s the only one who stood up and did the right thing when he had to.

That’s the lasting impression I have of him, of a man who did the right thing when he could have walked away, and I strive to be like him, to do the right thing when everyone else walks away. I am proud to call him my dad.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@hug_of_war: a man who did the right thing when he could have walked away, and I strive to be like him, to do the right thing when everyone else walks away. I am proud to call him my dad.
Have you ever told him this? I loved reading it.

ragingloli's avatar

the mark of cain
But seriously, my father was rude, dismissive of everything and everyone contrary to his opinion, he got extremely angry when confronted with evidence contrary to his opinion.
That led me to strive to not be like him.

Mozart's avatar

Well, one time when I was little, we’d just got a computer, and my dad put a floppy disk on the cabinet. It had ‘games’ written on it, and I was like ‘lol games’ and put it into the computer.
Loaded it up, I’d never seen a game called ‘porn’ before. I thought it sounded like an exiting game and I opened up the folder and I was like- WTF?!?!!

rocko's avatar

The mark of Zorro

drdoombot's avatar

My father is stingy, judgmental, self-righteous, distant, irresponsible and somewhat incompetent.

Every time I get mad at someone for not taking my advice or not doing something correctly, I fear I have inherited something from my father. Every time I have a fight with one of my brothers and push him him away physically and emotionally, I fear I am acting like my father. Every time I stop myself from buying something I would truly enjoy or start believing I can’t make something of myself, I fear I am my father.

And despite all this, my father is not the worst guy in the world, just a lonely, tragic man. Other fathers in my extended family have beaten their wives and children, morally and emotionally destroyed their own families and thrown themselves into the vices of drugs, alcohol and extramarital cheating. My father did differently than they did in that he left his family, provided monetary support inconsistently and at least stayed interested in the lives of his children (though not as responsible for them as he could have and should have been).

I’ve lived my life with a burden of responsibility; being the father-figure for my younger brothers because our real father wasn’t around. The weight of his influence has always been upon me because I don’t want to be like him. And I constantly remind myself that he could have been worse. The anxiety I sometimes have to cope with is surely because of these circumstances.

But all this has had its positive effects on me. Because of my father’s emotional distance, I’m determined to be loving and affectionate with my own children. Instead of judging my children, I want to support them. I take the issue of providing for my family and being responsible for them very seriously because my father wasn’t so serious about it. Though it isn’t true in every case, this child with a bad parent is making every effort to become a good parent when the time comes.

filmfann's avatar

@Mozart Welcome to fluther. Lurve.

le_inferno's avatar

I am so much like my dad it’s creepy, so we get along really well. I have always admired him. He works hard, he’s dedicated, and incredibly unselfish. Aside from that, I enjoy his company. He’s hilarious and remarkably intelligent. He always makes me laugh. We share similar outlooks on people and situations, which always allows for some amusing banter. A lot of my sense of humor is based on that of my dad’s and his brothers’.

My relationship with my dad is weird. It’s not the typical “Daddy’s girl” relationship where he spoils me and is over-protective of me. We’re more like friends, equals. He’s not super-affectionate. He’s not even the authority of the household, totally takes the backseat to my mom (“Ask your mother”). He’s not your average father by any means and I appreciate him all the more for that.

sjmc1989's avatar

I have pondered about this question for awhile now and the only two things I can think of that he has left a mark on me is his love of Pearl Jam and his ability to make light of any situation. He is a good man and I love him but, he didn’t play an active role in my upbringing.

samanthabarnum's avatar

Today is my dad’s 60th birthday. I found this question strange, finding it today.

I don’t always agree with my dad on a lot of things, but we’re a lot alike. I look like him—I have his nose, his eyes, his chin. I got his stubbornness and bull-headedness. I laugh like him. I got his love for science and technology and his inherent nerdiness (and with a name like Melvin, who could blame him for being nerdy?) and some of his sense of humor.

He however is judgmental, controlling of everyone to the worst degree, a Jesus freak, a hypocrite, and a selfish bastard. He was mentally and verbally abusive to me as a child, gone a lot, and tried like hell to distance me from my mother after moving on to his third wife.

He doesn’t take crap from anyone. He’s strong, both physically and mentally. He’s a human being, with faults and advantages and strengths and weaknesses. He’s the only father I’ll ever have, and as much as I’ve hated him over the years for kicking me out of his house when I was 11, for his abusive nature, complete lack of willingness to give me privacy, threatening to burn me alive in my bed and sending me into a nervous breakdown, wanting to send me away to a mental institution when all I needed was a little space and time to turn out fine, he’s still my father.

It makes me sad that at 60, he has a 31 year old, a 19 year old, an 11 year old, and a 9 year old. And the two youngest may never get to know him as a friend (sometimes) like my older sister and I do.

tinyfaery's avatar

Mental and physical scars, and a profound mistrust of male intentions.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

whip marks across the backs of my legs from the belt whippings.

My Dad raised me to be homophobic, racist, and egotistical. I loved my Dad when I was younger, as he was a god to me. As I got older, I saw his faults, saw him beat the crap out of my mom for something trivial, and drink himself into a fucking stupor until it killed him.

On the good side, he loved nature, was a great fisherman, taught me about snakes and other animals, he was a hard worker, a math whiz, and believed that good honest work builds character.

And on the bad side, he was cruel, arrogant, homophobic, a racist, and believed that the use of force was justified if talking didn’t work.

I became something more than my Dad. I am not homophobic, I am not a racist, I don’t hit my wife, or any other woman, I try to respect people, as long as they treat me well, and if they don’t, then I walk away. Violence cures nothing. More than anything, I want people to be happy, to laugh, and to be comfortable around me. Having a bad ass attitude may garner you respect, but fear-based respect isn’t respect at all.

I also make sure to look out for my family, and there is more to family than blood. I have family in law that I will do anything for, and blood relatives that I shun like lepers.

chanteezer's avatar

I’m wondering where to even begin to answer this question.

The most important thing my dad has given me is my sense of humor. I have gone through a lot of rough things in my life, but I feel like I have been able to handle them so well because I can laugh at myself, and I can still find humor and beauty in everything. A good sense of self is important too, and my dad has definitely taught me that. I base my opinion of myself on what I have accomplished, the good qualities I see in myself, and the knowledge that I am a good person, and without my dad, I’m not sure I would have that. I guess you could say my dad gave me the gift of being my wonderful self!

loser's avatar

I can’t tell from here but I’m sure it’s shaped like a belt.

wundayatta's avatar

My father was/is unnecessarily critical. He never provided any praise. As a result, I never think I’m good enough for anything. He was also unwilling to ever discuss feelings.

He was also very honest, and very pragmatic about comparing the costs and benefits of various courses of action, and selecting the one that makes the most sense. He also let me make my own mistakes, and get involved in whatever I wanted to get involved in. In that way, he was supportive, but it was always an unstated supportiveness that I didn’t get at the time.

So I believe in trying things you want to experience, being honest, and being perfect and accomplished. I also believe in not expecting anyone else (especially my children) to be perfect. I believe in trying to talk about stuff, and not keep resentments and problems hidden. I’m not good at this, but I believe in it.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

my dad’s an asshole. so i guess i feel kind of guilty because i stopped talking to him before i started high school, and occasionally he’d send me a card for my birthday or something, and i wouldn’t respond. it makes me feel like a shitty daughter when i get an envelope in the mail from him.
i also feel really crappy whenever my mother and i get into an argument, because i know she’s been through a lot, and sacrifices a lot to be a single mother and provide me with a good life. so even the smallest arguments with her make me feel really bad. and i feel bad about the idea of moving out, because i don’t want to just leave my mum here. but she’s got a boyfriend she really cares about now, so hopefully he’ll move in by then, and i know she’ll be happy.
the idea of having a dad is pretty foreign to me, too.

meh.

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