|Bob Jackson in a portrait taken sometime in his twenties.|
If my father were still living he would be 93 years old on January 14th. Unfortunately he passed away 25 years ago when he was a mere 67 years of age--two years older than I am now. Somehow that age of passing sticks with me. It's like a milestone that I must pass in order to make it to an older age like 93 or more. Once I've made it past 67 I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief and move on into the future with more confidence about living to an old age.
My father was a pretty cool guy. Everybody seemed to think so. Part of his coolness was his juggling skill and another part was his sense of humor. He liked to laugh and he liked to make people laugh. That's probably one of the things that led him to go into show business. He loved being on stage to entertain people.
Bob Jackson performed his juggling act up until the last year of his life when a series of infirmities began to weaken his body and diminish his spirit. I sensed that something was happening in that last year, but the severity of it all wasn't fully realized until a few months before his death on September 9th of 1990. In July of that year he managed to make it to one final jugglers' convention. His presence there was more like a farewell than a participatory event like past conventions where he had juggled with the younger folk with nearly as much enthusiasm as they had. He was beloved by the jugglers who knew him and sought out by those who didn't.
Since he was my father I guess I tended to take him for granted much of the time. He was a great provider and a good example to his children. He worked a regular job with diligence and pursued his avocation of show business with a passion. My father never pursued anything halfheartedly and attempted to instill this within all of us. The man had an exuberance for living and a curiosity for the world in which he lived.
I was often intimidated by him as he could come across as a taskmaster. Later in my life--and even during those times when his presence loomed over my formative years--I understood what he was attempting to instill within his children even though I was not always fully on board with his agenda. He had it right when I often didn't.
In those later years of his life, as I was bringing my own children into the world and acquiring a better understanding of fatherhood, I began to feel an alignment with my father and what he represented. Oh, we still clashed on certain generational things, but overall I began to see how I was becoming my father. The old feuds of differing opinions began to melt as we seemed to become closer to being peers and friends rather than father and son. We were both heading toward an old age where the parent/child relationship becomes somewhat blurred.
Before it all ended I took opportunities to thank my dad for the values he taught me and the experiences he brought into my life. I was glad that I was able to do that. Any perceived enmity between us faded into a mutual respect and toleration. We were never the same people during our lives together and yet now much of who he was is who I am. In many ways I feel that I fall short of what he accomplished in his life, but I think he would be pleased with where I have been in my life and where I am now. He did the best he knew how when it came to living life. I thank him for being that special man.
Did you have a good relationship with your father? Do you see a part of your parents in who you are now? Were you rebellious when you were growing up?