Kent Bush: A father's example is his greatest legacy
Everyone who knows my dad likes my dad. I’ve always wanted to be like him. I have always tried to impress him.
He doesn’t talk much and never has a bad word to say about anyone. At 75 years old, he still works harder than most people I know, and he volunteers in his free time to help those who are less fortunate.
He has blazed an incredible trail for his three children to follow, but I don’t know if any of us stand a chance at providing people the slightest notion of the kind of man he is.
The most notable thing about my father is that I never remember him giving me any advice. We never had long talks about girls, God or greed. He never told me how to live. He showed me.
That is something I want to impart to my sons. But my sons aren’t fortunate enough to have a father that doesn’t talk much. I do my best to model for my sons a good work ethic, dedication to my community and a devotion to God. But I talk, too.
I love to walk through problems and issues with words. I want to try to help them see the big picture umbrella under which smaller events take place. I don’t just want to tell my sons what is right or wrong. I want them to understand the framework in which those judgments are made.
Maybe I don’t trust my actions to accurately reveal that framework. Maybe I appreciate the critical work of a great analogy. Maybe I just like the sound of my own voice.
Regardless, this is my first Father’s Day with two sons because, in less than a week, we will board a plane to Ethiopia to take custody of our 4-year-old. He is legally ours. Almost all of the red tape has been cut through. He will be home soon.
But that is just the beginning. Blake will go from only child to big brother. We will have twice as many appointments and scheduling conflicts. That is what made me think about my dad and how he never really gave me advice.
Our new son will speak very little English, so long-winded explanations on important topics won’t be of any use. I will have to demonstrate my love for him. I will have to show him how I feel and set a clear example for him until he can better understand the new language into which he will be immersed.
A gentle touch will be more important than words. Smiles will be key words in his temporary vocabulary. I could talk all I want to him and do no good. But what I show him will stick.
That is especially true of our new son. But I think it is also true for Blake because I know that is how my father taught me so much about himself, the world and how we should live in it.
I wouldn’t trade one day watching my dad for 100 years listening to advice.
When Blake came into my life seven years ago in an operating room in Norman, Okla., it changed my life. The nearly two years our family has spent preparing to bring Dawit home from Ethiopia has been just as life altering.
Children provide a new calling to live like the man you always wanted to be. For me, that man was my dad. One day I hope my sons can look back on their lives and feel as lucky as I do.