While Fredmas is a logical time to be thinking about my dad, I have also found myself thinking about him quite often recently. I suppose that it is impossible to know who he was to himself - the person he thought himself to be. It wasn't the sort of thing that he communicated. Most of my impressions are about how he affected me, and the many things he thought aloud.
From the perspective of my young self, he was an unknowable force of raw purpose - working and playing. Even his frequent rests, to consume books and beer and televised hockey games, were all done with relished deliberateness. It gave me a depressed sense of never being able to live up to his example, but it also gave me a clear direction to try to grow. As I grew into adulthood, I could see more about how he was always working with what he had. His lack of expressed regrets and regard for what to work towards is something I've adopted wholesale, as much as I can.
Now, as a middle-aged father myself, it is clear to me that he was totally making it up as he went along. There is an innate urge to try to mimic his parenting style, his approach to life even. But there is this odd aspect by which having lost him so soon before becoming a father has allowed me to be open to honest reflections about what was good. And there was a lot of good. But perhaps thanks to our tender wind-down as father and son, I can also see how I can do better.
The realization that I am best when considering what utility I can have to the people and ideas I care about, I think I finally understand the source of his purposefulness. Thanks dad. Happy birthday.