Sunday, June 18, 2006

Stella Says…A father's advice can stabilise a topsy-turvy world

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 18 June 2006)

Fathers who are involved in the daily lives of their children are the backbone of society. This love given by dads is one of the most precious commodities that has ever existed and their wisdom is a gift that lasts a lifetime.

In my house, we have a new pastime this summer – baseball games. We have always been baseball fans. I grew up in St. Louis, which is a baseball town, and in the summer months we cared about little more than our team, the Cardinals. As a result, I am still an avid Cardinal fan.

However, we have never really been the type to go to a game more than once or twice a season. We would watch them on the television or keep up on the scores through the newspaper. This year is different though.

We have been to several baseball games already and it is only the first part of the season. My little girl is hooked now, even though the team here in DC is not doing very well at all. Her sudden interest in baseball has nothing to do with the team or how well it is doing; it has everything to do with the fact that her dad has been taking her to these games.

This is something special they share together now and the two have even been going to games when I have not been able to go as well. She is so much into baseball now that on Friday night when we went to a big video arcade with some families from her dad's office, she cared nothing at all about the great games there was to play at the arcade.

Instead, she was glued to the television watching a baseball game with the home team against the New York Yankees. She was just too cute to watch. She would get upset and yell at the television when the Yankees scored a run and would cheer when the Nationals pulled ahead. She even called the Yankees team the "stankees."

Those words are music to the ears of an avid Cardinal fan like myself. We even use to call the New York Mets "pond scum" back in the 80s.

Although my daughter never cared about baseball before a few weeks ago, it seems she can now spend hours engrossed in a game. However, I suspect this newfound passion has very little to do with how entertaining baseball can be and everything to do with the fact that baseball is a new way she has found to connect with her dad.

Paul even took her shopping after the game last Saturday and bought her a Nationals shirt and baseball cap, which she proudly sported to the game on Wednesday night. For the rest of her life, this is one of the many experiences she will cherish when she thinks about her dad.

I never met my father until I was 16 years old. In fact, Paul went with me to meet him for the first time – and oh boy was it a huge let down. He was drunk, a state he was often in, and blasting rock music. I couldn't help but smirk at the irony that he was the father and I was the teenager.

However, before I met my own dad, I had met Paul's dad. I had never really had a father figure in my life before, so I was very interested in the relationship between this father and his son. When I first met Paul, he was 18 years old and would still go and lay with his father in the mornings and talk to him. This type of intimacy was a totally alien experience for me.

Paul's dad was a man of very few words, but when he chose to speak, the world listened. This was a bit difficult for me at first, since I could not understand his thick Guyanese accent when he would try to start a conversation with me. One time when I had first met Paul, Dad and I must have exchanged at least five minutes worth of conversation and I had absolutely no idea what he had said.

I'm a quick study though and soon enough I caught on and truly appreciated this family that had both a mother and a father. Dad's wisdom helped to guide Paul and I through financial decisions and family planning during our early marriage.

Dad was meticulous with his personal bookkeeping and tried to teach us to do the same – although we never appreciated these lessons until much later in life. It is funny how we think we know everything when we are kids and its not until we are adults that we realise we still know absolutely nothing.

Dad passed away from heart disease far too early for any of us. My children barely got to know him and Paul still feels his absence, especially at times when he needs some wise advice. If you ask Paul about his special experiences with his dad, he remembers how his dad took him to the first day of school in Essequibo and running errands with him.

He also remembers going with his father every Saturday up to the Assemblies of God camp when it was first being built to check on the progress. These seemingly ordinary experiences created fond memories and formed a lasting bond between father and son. Just like how a silly baseball game can make a father and daughter even closer than they were before.

We should never underestimate the role of a father in society. I truly believe fathers help shape the future of their children. And I also believe that without those ordinary experiences, there is a constant void in a person's life that they may never be able to fully understand.

If you are feeling a bit off today or if you need some wise advice, perhaps you just need to spend some time with your father and create some more ordinary experiences. A father's attention is like a healing balm and just a few words of advice has a way of stabilising a topsy-turvy world.

Email: stellasays[at]

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