My Dad liked to call me names.
When he, my sister and I would assemble in the kitchen each night to cook dinner, Dad would turn our protein of the night over to me saying, “This is a job for the Master Seasoner.” A few shakes of plastic Goya and Lawry’s bottles and I could kick my feet up, knowing another masterpiece was ready to be cooked to perfection. More commonly, I was his Big Guy, a name that is either the result of or impetus for the purchase of a pale blue sweater with a large navy letter ‘B’ featured prominently on the front. This was my first nickname and remains my favorite. Particulars may occasionally elude me but what has stuck is the happiness and confidence these names imbued in me.
Similarly, I don’t recall every story Dad read to us each night, but I do remember how he built worlds out of words and brought color and imagination to my universe.
Memories of my childhood are often like this – cherished moments that later reveal a meaningful takeaway whose value is often unexpected and unacknowledged.
I guess that’s what fatherhood is about, isn’t it? To create meaningful and empowering moments, imparting the tools that will continue to guide us when we begin to travel down our own paths. 8 years after losing Dad to the fight against cancer, I can attest that his spirit still guides my way.