A Father's Day Tribute to my Father
It's Father's Day and, as usual, that means I think about my late father, and wish he was still with me. So, this year, I have decided to put my thoughts to words and publish them in my blog, if for no other reason than writing about him is the best way for me to spend some time with him, and I would give anything in the world to do that.My father was a deliberate and methodical person; when he used a particular word in a certain circumstance, it was because he had thought about the context, mulled over the way the word sounded, and considered the possible interpretations of the word by his audience before uttering it. (No, he was not given over to quick responses.) And if he couldn't think of the exact word he wanted, he would ruminate about it until the perfect word became clear in his head. If rumination didn't work, he even stooped to research--his favorite book was Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (you know, that massive thing you see in libraries). And while this was especially true when he wrote letters (and he wrote many) it was even the case when he was having a conversation. The trouble with this was the converse: he also expected that you were selecting your words with the same care--I don't think he ever got used to the way I would blurt the first thing that came into my head.
I miss so many things about him, but the biggest things are the conversations we used to have. When there was something you really wanted to discuss, there was no one better to talk to about it than him, especially if it was something to do with academics or ethics (and he could always find something academic or ethical about any issue.) I used to love the way he cocked his head to his right, often with his long fingers supporting his jaw. And he looked at you with his glacier blue eyes, and he listened, only interjecting comments when he needed you to stay on course. He was often as enthusiastic about an idea as you were, and in many cases he took notes as he listened, so that he would have everything exactly right (did I mention he was an accountant?) He used the notes too, because he almost never gave you an immediate response. You could expect a minimum of three days time to hear back from him, and it was many times in writing, with his flowing, precise script. And if the subject matter was not all that familiar to him, his full response would be even longer, because research would be involved, and often a trip to the library or bookstore.
It was not uncommon to get a book or magazine or newspaper article from him weeks or even months after a discussion, always with a short forward alluding to the discussion which engendered the gift. He once gave me a USGA Rules of the Game book to keep with me in my golf bag, months after I had asked him a random question about a ruling during a non-competitive round with friends. It didn't matter to him that I wasn't even keeping score at the time; it did matter that I should know the proper ruling so as to be able to keep an accurate score when the time came.
My father was proper and accurate. He always used to say these things stemmed from his training as an accountant, but I think they were congenital. I can not ever remember the man breaking any rule whatsoever or even bending one a little--other than his penchant for rolling stops. He took no liberties with his tax return, insisting on paying his full share. When he had to drink a gallon of some horrible concoction in advance of a medical procedure, he set the timer on his watch and used a measuring cup to make sure he downed 8 oz every ten minutes as the instructions demanded. (I swear I am not making this up.) When he went hiking--which we did a lot--he used an altimeter so that I couldn't exaggerate the elevation gain, and a map was consulted at every intersection even if we had hiked the trail on numerous occasions.
I have published three books now, and the fourth (The Woman From Death Row) comes out in less than forty-eight hours. The days leading up to a book launch are so exciting and full of promise, but there is one thing missing and I can't help but lament it. Every day I think about how much I would enjoy talking the whole process over with my father. I can just see the bright sparkle in his eyes listening to me drone on about some aspect of the book launch. He was just happy to be sharing in his child's excitement--and if that isn't good parenting, I don't know what is.
If you haven't had a chance to look at my updated website, here is The Link to my Website, which, I am happy to say, my daughter designed for me. I think that would make my father happy.
Peter Hogenkamp is a practicing physician, public speaker and author of medical fiction and thrillers living in Rutland, Vermont. Peter’s writing credits include The Intern (TouchPoint Press, April 2020); The Vatican Conspiracy book and audiobook (Bookouture/HachetteUK, October 2020), The Vatican Secret (Bookouture/HachetteUK, April 2021), The Vatican Secret audiobook (Saga Egmont, March 2022) and Conspirazione Vaticano (Newton Compton Editori 7/2021.) The Woman from Death Row, book one of the new Jade Stryker thriller series, (Tirgearr Publishing, June 2023.) He can be found on his Author Website, as well as his personal blog, Peter Hogenkamp Writes, where he writes about most anything. Peter is the creator, producer and host of Your Health Matters, a health information program, which airs on cable television, streams on YouTube and sounds off on podcast. Peter was a finalist for the prestigious 2019 Killer Nashville Claymore Award as well as the 2020 Vermont Writer’s Prize. He tweets—against the wishes of his wife, four children and feisty Cairn Terrier, Hermione—on Twitter. He can be reached at his FaceBook Page and at firstname.lastname@example.org.