This will be a little piece on random tales and my personal observations of fathers...and kitchens and a bit more. I'll tell you what it won't be. It won't be, even on this Father's Day, pure praise for perfect fathers. You can find that in lots of places.
My father (born in Copenhagen, Denmark) was a flaming narcissist and I say that not with bitterness, no, but with affection, truly. The man was a charmer. And, most of my life, I ate it up and pined for more. I idolized him. He was a little funny looking, but made up for it with a passion for life. He was a free spirit...yet a straight laced entrepreneur who built a business that designed and manufactured a few parts (among other things) for Apollo 11 which went to the moon. He was a government defense contractor. He drove a cadillac, drank scotch, smoked a pipe (had a collection) and wore fancy suits. We lived in a Danish modern home. Some years later, I guess in his 40s, he lost the business. I think it was due to his narcissism and ultimately his difficulty working with others.
He then landed a job with Boeing and moved his new family (he had divorced my very sensible mother, also from Copenhagen) to Seattle. It wasn't long before he lost that job. He sold cars for awhile until he couldn't work cooperatively with anyone. A lover of art, a passionate collector, an artist himself, primarily a sculptor, he reinvented himself, and I mean reinvented! He grew his hair long and wore it in a ponytail or a braid. He grew a beard. I think he evolved more into the core of his identity.
He scavenged garage sales and thrift markets and created a small business auctioning off his treasures which he thought had value. He profited and lost. The walls of his house were filled with art. Although I'd say I'm sure he was tormented from time to time, being a narcissist, especially when people didn't give him the time of day, since it was everyone else who was problematic, he stayed in an oddly happy bubble. He always spoke from his heart. That, I've got to give him.
Finally, he and his wife could not afford the house, and they moved to an apartment. He had sporadic interest in his 3 kids he left behind in Long Island before and after the move. I once said to him, "you left when we were teenagers to go across the country and you never flew us out there." His reply was, "do you know how much it cost to move to Seattle?" Oy. I knew at the time that was a wacky response! I helped him numerous times financially and toward the last few years of his life, sent him money monthly.
FATHERS AND KITCHENS!
Every Sunday when I was growing up, before the divorce, my mother would take us kids to church and upon arrival home, my father would have prepared a great breakfast! My father was the master breakfast maker and, of course, this being the 60s, the master backyard griller, complete with dog, a beer, and Frank Sinatra. He made a big production (of course) of whatever he cooked and that was fun.
After the good years, I clearly remember my father telling me as I was soon to walk to the bus stop at 13 years old, that he and my mother would be getting divorced, and he would not be there when I returned home from school. He told me in the kitchen when he was sitting down eating his breakfast. Not the best timing for that message, I don't think!
My father was a big thinker, very big. He had vision. I think too much, actually. He told me out of the blue one day when I was in my 30s that I should sell kitchens in Hong Kong. He was serious. That was an interesting piece of the puzzle...
Yes, he was a difficult, and wonderful-at-moments, father, but certainly an interesting one, and now, I have perspective. But, wow, he was really something. None of us are perfect and we are mostly a product of our own upbringing, and his was especially difficult. I'll always have those Sunday morning breakfasts, that's for sure. It's known among my siblings that I take after him the most...except for the narcissism! I absolutely believe that my similar personality characteristics of being a big, very deep, thinker, a free spirit, having a positive outlook, being a passionate person with vision, one who is comfortable with risk, enjoys creative endeavors, comes almost solely from his influence...geez, sounds a bit narcissistic! BUT, negative attributes coming from him? The same, any one of these characteristics which, if taken too far afield, might not bode well for every day living as history proved for him...the paradox! Checks and balances...I think many of us try to embrace the best qualities and temper the negative ones from our parents.
Back to kitchens, as I reflect on my father's connection to our kitchen, I will say that in my design practice, more and more men are happy to be cooking in the kitchen. Maybe they have specific dishes or meals they like to cook, maybe they just like to assist. I'm definitely seeing more input from dads about the family's needs in the kitchen, special accommodations for the family, and an overall much higher interest in being involved in the cooking process than ever before. It's a nice trend to see.
FATHER'S DAY IN MY HOUSE TODAY
My husband, father to our 3 children, has also taken on a more involved role in the kitchen as the years have gone by. Always the one to go out and get breakfast foods, especially when our grown children and their SOs are visiting, always the self motivated director of cleaning up, just always happily and selflessly wanting to serve others in the family, having everyone's comfort in mind, today, we will treat him like a King! I will force him to relax, which could at first be uncomfortable for him, but he deserves it.
All you dads out there...life isn't easy, it's a real roller coaster, but it's days like this that are important to stop the routine for a moment and enjoy the simple pleasures of family....and food is always in the equation, isn't it? To my son-in-law, who we just spent some days with in Cape Cod last week in their rented home to which they graciously invited us as well as our son and his girlfriend, you're an amazing dad to my granddaughter. You are her Prince Charming now and you always will be. I see that you get it. She's a VERY lucky girl, that Chloe! Love you and have a perfect Father's Day today! And all you other dads too!