This month marks the first anniversary of my dad's passing. It's been a long year, full of pain and grief, but the time has flown by it seems.
James over at Dreams of Mythic Fanatay just lost his father. His post and this post by Tim over at Gothridge Manor got me thinking a bit more about my dad, especially his influence on my entertainment and gaming life. Dad passed just before Father's Day last year and it's taken me a few days to be able to write a companion post to my friends' posts.
My dad didn't approve of my RPG-ing. But he loved games. He and I had epic one-on-one Trivial Pursuit battles. He taught me how to play solitaire, hearts, and cribbage long before Windows decided to teach me. I think the last game I played with my father was one called "Exasperation"--a homemade version of "Aggravation" that my brother made in Shop class in the 1970s.
He never begrudged me a bit of graph paper, however. He was an engineer by trade and got the stuff free. He even brought home a huge desk-blotter pad of graph paper once, just to watch me fill it up with mazes and corridors. Dad didn't realize it, but he fed my dungeoneering hunger by taking us on yearly trips to Lehman Caves. I'd return home and sketch winding caverns and make ham-fisted attempts at drawing rock formations.
Then my parents fell prey to the "demon-worship, mind-control, it's-all-evil" Pulling propaganda of the mid-80s. Gaming stopped completely for over a decade under my parents' concerned and watchful eyes.
He was more tolerant of my gaming in later years. Once I was married, I suppose he had resigned himself to the fact that I was going to play whether they approved or not. He would sit, watching bemused as I painted miniatures in the corner of our time-share in the mountains, or as I idly sketched maps while watching videos or sports with him. I DID keep a secret from him; I cannot imagine what he would have thought, said, or done if he'd learned I had introduced his grandchildren to the hobby. His resigned ambivalence would never have extended that far.
All the game-playing with him petered out over the last year or so of his life. We just couldn't get him interested in playing--except for the aforementioned game of Aggravation. He played with me and two of my kids who took great delight in sending Grand's marbles back to home base.
Like with James, my father was also my main introduction to media, although with slightly different tastes. I can only presume my dad and James' dad did not share the same generation. My dad taught me to enjoy opera and the Tijuana Brass. Yeah, kinda square I know, but still.... He also introduced me to Robert Heinlein, Louis L'Amour, Wilber Smith, Michael Crichton, David Morrell. and ERB's Tarzan books. He was a voracious reader and instilled that in me.
He loved movies and introduced me to John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Lee Marvin, and Charles Bronson. While he could never understand my fascination with Fantasy, he loved Sci-fi. He and I would sneak away from my mother to watch any Sci-fi we could find...except for Star Wars. I think that got too close to fantasy for his liking.
Dad was a pilot as well as a Sci-fi fan. Together we watched the live television coverage of the first launch of the shuttle Columbia. I thrilled for him when he was able to be present at a live launch himself; he brought back fantastic photos and descriptions of the noise, colors, sights. He worked for years in the aerospace industry and shared with me (what he could) tidbits of what he was working on, as well as pictures and sketches of engines, rockets, etc.
I miss my dad greatly.... But I'm also immensely grateful for the things he shared with me, for the inspirations and fascinations he instilled in me. And for the excellent example of fatherhood that he was to me. There's a lot he did that I didn't realize or appreciate at the time...and I appreciate more and more as time passes.