Compadres' Day


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Jun 16, 2012 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

It is the day before Father's Day, a day that will never be celebrated in my honor.

I sit in a foreign country watching two young boys out the window of the house where I am staying.  They are barefoot, playing together, sharing their toys, speaking a language that is alien to me.   They start kicking a soccer ball, as soccer is the national sport for them.

One of the boys lives in the house where I am a guest.  Early this morning I found him opening a kitchen cabinet door, climbing up on the cabinet shelves, reaching for something very much higher than himself.

I came to his aid, and found that he wanted a biscuit.  Using motions and signs I assured him that I would help him if he needed it...all he had to do was ask.
Both of the boys are handsome for their age, and I am sure that some day they will be handsome young men, winning the hearts of some young ladies.  Later, they too will be fathers, and perhaps have children of their own.

I have just finished reading a web article about fatherhood.  In it a number of books about fatherhood were reviewed, including one that had a statement by Doron Weber in his book "A Family Memoir":

"No one you love dies once. You are condemned to relive their death, and try to prevent it, and to fail, every time."

I can understand where Mr. Weber is coming from.  His son died at age 16 from complications of a heart transplant.  However if it was my son I would try to focus on having known him at celebrate even the briefest moment of having known him.

Often people ask me if I have any sons or daughters.  I reply that I have thousands of sons and daughters, made up of former students and many people from the Free Software space.  Since I taught at a university when I was fairly young, my students now have sons and daughters that are themselves starting families.  I am unsure if this makes me a "great-grandfather" at the age of 62, but it has been interesting to follow their path via email, social networking and occasional visits.

Some of these "children" are closer than others.  Some I have told directly that I would have been proud to have had them as my blood son or daughter, but I can not take the place or credit of the parents they already have.  For the most part I have only had them in the "easy" times, not when they were sick, or in trouble, or distressed because some loved pet or sibling had died.

There have been times where, as a teacher or "compadre" (that favorite "uncle" that you can tell things you can not tell your father or mother), I have guided the young person to what I thought would be a better path, or given consolation to them in times of grief, but for the most part my times with them have been much easier than a true parent.

The boys were trying to use a pole to get something out of the swimming pool near the place where they had been playing with their toys.  I went to see what they were doing and found that one of their spinning tops had fallen into the pool and was lying on the bottom.  I suggested pushing a short-handled shovel into the pole, and with that they were able to scoop the top from the bottom of the pool.  Now they are back to the serious task of seeing who can make their top spin longer.

If only all of life's problems were that easy....if only we had someone who would help us reach the biscuit that is slightly beyond our reach.  If only we all had a compadre, and a guide who would help us reclaim the things we have lost.  Most of us do, if we only look for them and confide in them.

That someone, that compadre, and that guide is someone that we can celebrate tomorrow.  Please share this day with that person.

Carpe Diem

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