Prior to this installment I wrote about Mr. Stevens, whom I pretty much adore, last summer. As sometimes happens in the aging process, his life has become a bit more basic than it once was.
I learned to do a lot of chores at the Stevens house. This morning as I stripped the bed, I remembered the Stevens household and Big Danny Stevens’ exemplary demonstration of what a dad should be.
There was nothing quiet about the Stevens kids. I don’t recall much being left unsaid. Of course, there were secrets that were kept from Mr. and Mrs. Stevens. We were pretty careful to keep our infractions confidential from the siblings who never got in trouble; either they were old enough to be over it or still young and untarnished. I remember some low level blackmail between the kids, “If you don’t do my chores for me, I’ll tell Dad what you did.” There was plenty of the same sort of blackmail at my house. I imagine it’s the sort of white collar crime you might find in any large family.
Once you got in trouble, you didn’t have to doubt your place in the world. For several horribly uncomfortable minutes, not only did the world revolve around you, you were the center of Big Danny Stevens’ universe. Boy he could yell.
Mr. Stevens is winding it up and winding down. His voice isn’t near as strong as it was when his kids were young and required so much of his attention. I spent a lot of time listening to him when I was young. I was mesmerized by the dad he was. I overheard him talking about each and every one of his kids at one time or another. He worried. A lot.
To my ears the message was always the same, no matter the decibel level, “I love you. I hurt when you’re hurt and I’ll protect you the best way I know how. Sometimes the best way is to yell as LOUD as I can so you’ll think before you make the same dumb mistake twice.”
I’m sure he doubted himself as a parent but his intentions were good. He never held his kids back from achieving more than he did. When they’ve been happy, he’s been happy.