There’s something I never write about. Manhood. I speak of it a good amount, I believe in it with all my heart, but I’ve never wrote anything about it.
Tonight, that ends.
I got my first tattoos last year. LOVE rests in a thin script on my left forearm and HOPE on my right. They were always meant to be the beginning. Plans have been made for quite a few more, but there’s one that I’ll be getting soon.
Eiridh tonn air uisge balbh.
This saying can be difficult to recite, but when read in the old Gaelic tongue, it strikes a deep feeling awakened from the old years.
It means, “a wave will rise on quiet water.”
During the old years, there would be tribes of barbarians that entered villages and slaughtered all of the men, raped the women, and beat and enslaved the old and young…As word of these raids reached the Irish warrior clans, they would set sail. As they entered the harbors deep in the early morning hours, their sails silent and no oars used until close to shore, they would sneak deep into the villages and free the captured souls.
From these actions, this proverb was born. It was meant to stand for the men who would come to defend the weak and old…those who could not defend themselves.
I first realized I wanted this tattoo because of my Dad and my Grandpa. These are the two most influential men in my life. They are both different to no end, but their character shines like the brightest lighthouse on the darkest night. Never have I ever doubted their work ethic, dedication to family, and belief in doing what’s right.
My Dad is one that I could tell many, many stories about. So many that he will never tell himself.
He has never aspired to be “rich” and has always sat in quiet tongue in explaining about what it takes to support a family. But there was two situations that still strike me to this day.
Dad used to pick me up and we’d stop at Long John Silvers after a day of work. Something about a chicken basket with the little “crispy’s” (hands up if you know what I’m talking about). This one afternoon, we walked in to notice a young black couple standing at the counter with their two small children. As my Dad entered, he gave a full glance to the restaurant and instantly approached them. Cracking a few jokes and introducing himself, I watched as he made them feel welcomed, and the typical wall that stands between strangers fell quickly. After some more conversation, and a nice lunch, we all said goodbye and went our separate ways. As me and Dad climbed in the car, he looked at me with a little steel in his eye, “Josh, did you notice anything about that interaction?” I was a little bit oblivious at 10yrs old, so I responded with a confused face…”If you see people in a place where they instantly stand out, make sure you allow them to be seen.” was his response. I hadn’t noticed it in the moment, but the Long John Silvers had been 100% filled with white families. My Dad had saw the potential awkwardness and broke the barrier.
My Dad, for all of our differences, can see people for who they are. He loves with a unique strength that I can only hope to emulate and continue on. His patience comes in strong waves, and his dedication is legendary. He has never missed a chance to embed a lesson into his children about treating others with grace and love, and he has steadfastly stood with my Mom to make sure that we had a safe childhood. But there’s a part of my Dad that he hides from the world, and for good reason as I’ve learned in life.
My Dad is one of the greatest givers I’ll ever know.
Years ago, we knew a family that had been ripped apart by sad circumstances. A father had chosen to cheat and run away with someone leaving his wife and four children with little to no support. As time went on, this mother worked through some intense seasons attempting to support her kids. Sadly, her van began to die as well. My Dad has ran a small auto dealership for years, never growing too large and always making enough to support our family. There’s little margin for error or losses…but one day, I watched him do something…and he’s done it multiple times to this day…that will inspire me to my dying breath. The mother came over to the dealership and drove several vans around, finding one that appeared as if it would fit closer to her price range and seemed to have enough space for her. There’s no way that she had enough at the moment to purchase the van without going into debt, but she was in a tough place. After she left, my Dad came back into the building and sat down to type up the paperwork…
He looked over at me at some point in the process, and having watched my Dad sell hundreds of vehicles, this one was different. “We’re going to give her the van, Josh. Sometimes you give, not to get, but because the right thing is always the right thing.” I remember how it struck me what he’d just done. It’s not like my Dad could afford to just hand a $5,000 vehicle to someone, but he did. Without even a second thought. He did what was right. I can’t imagine that moment without thinking that my Dad would be one of the men of old. Defending the weak, the meek, the poor and disenfranchised without even a thought to his own health or story. My Dad is the wave that comes on quiet water.
He sat on my bedside every night of my childhood and spoke love and hope into me. He shot baskets and threw footballs until we were out of breath. He took me to work and showed me what doing a good days effort looked like. He gave me a glimpse into a life that carries struggles and how you can still sing in the darkness. He showed me what love looks like, and even when him and my Mom would find their differences, they didn’t give up. He passed on so many moments that I can only pray and hope I get the continued chances to pass on myself. My Dad is the warrior of old, pushing barbarians back with a swing of his axe and screaming the chants of his people. He is the man who is larger than life, but desires to live an existence where the small things are the focus.
This is my Dad, the man who never gives up on me, and in turn, I’m finding that I would never give up on him. His handshake is the one that matters most. My Dad is the wave, and I want to be that wave too.
Sometimes we want to emulate the basketball star, the well spoken politician, or the thoughtful writer. Not me, I want to be the wave. Because long ago, a wave came on quiet water in my life, and now, it’s crashing loudly on the beaches of grace.