Dad’s influence spans generations

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

I was in my 20s and driving from one place to another, when I said, “I’m not like my dad at all.”
My wife responded with a half-laugh, half-snort. I don’t recall if an argument ensued, but let’s pretend her nonverbal commentary was followed by silence. That way, I’ll have fewer words to eat.
Dad and I went through a short period when our conversations were unpleasant. I’m told it was a natural outgrowth of the relationship, when a son needs to prove he’s his own man, and a father sees little reason to help that process along.
We didn’t have yelling matches. They weren’t horrible days, just annoying. Nothing happened that would warrant a Great American Novel. (As a writer, I have mixed feelings about that.)
Those contentious times are long gone, and I’m inclined to think I was mostly in the wrong. “Mostly” is more than fair – more than half, even.
OK, maybe it was far more than half, but certainly not all. I don’t care what the old buzzard says to the contrary.
Whoa. That last bit was for comedic effect. The point is I thought I was nothing like Dad, and I was mistaken.
The first comparison that comes to mind is his cough. For whatever reason, I remember his cough from my childhood. There’s nothing especially distinctive about it, except that it belongs to me, too. I’m sure he’s happy to know that whenever I get sick, I think of him.
We also share a sense of humor. We crack each other up during wide-ranging talks about sports, science, TV shows, movies, news, politics, religion and anything that comes to mind. We don’t see the world from exactly the same perspectives and don’t always agree, but we usually get close to the same wavelength.
One of Dad’s definitions of the good life is a book in his hands and nothing else on his schedule. He’s retired, so all he needs to do is find a book worth reading, which he says isn’t always easy. Still, Dad’s version of the good life sounds like paradise to me.
We both enjoy a thick ribeye grilled over hot coals. Throw in a baked potato and asparagus cooked to a limp deliciousness, and our taste buds dance like witches under a full moon.
I would say we both have a fondness for the beach, except that’s like saying we both like to breathe. But few things make us happier than sitting at Sea & Suds in Gulf Shores, Ala., and ordering raw oysters, steamed shrimp and fried crab claws off the appetizer menu, then chasing them down with a pitcher of beer.
I’ve been scratching the surface here, so let’s go deep with the time we have left.
I watch the way he interacts with my kids, the way he teases and enjoys them, and how they tease and enjoy him right back.
It’s clear that not only am I like Dad in many ways, but my children carry some of his traits around, too.
There’s no use arguing the facts. Dad’s influence spans the generations.
scott.morris@journalinc.com