Imperfect Dad

D L Henderson
3 min readJul 22, 2019

“Be perfect even as you Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48

That’s a pretty tall order. However, being a good Dad was still my intention.

“What’s that you say? Isn’t the road to hell paved with good intentions?”

(Please don’t let the fact that I’m talking to myself bother you. You’ve heard the old joke,” I talk to myself because I’m the only one intelligent enough to understand.”)

So, anyways, my self assessment, looking back, was I didn’t become the ideal parent. Perhaps it was because I was working all the time to support Patty and our 5 kids. But that’s just a cop out. For example, my Dad’s philosophy was he learned the hard way, so too should his boys. Well it worked with my brother who learned, went on to earn his PhD, wrote a book, and is living with his wife in the paradise of Wisconsin. As for me, well I’m a very slow learner, kind of a knucklehead. So, it took a lot longer for my smarts to kick in.

At the outset I was going to teach my kids the facts of life, give them a step up, a head start.

Well, like I said, I was too busy working. I guess my Dad and I are a lot alike. (By the by, we had become best of friends after my tumultuous years, Mom and Dad were living with us, and I was looking forward to spending a lot of time with him, sitting on the porch, enjoying the summer together. Unfortunately, on that Easter, which happened also to be my birthday, he died.)

Nevertheless, my kids seem to have turned out alright.

My oldest is working for a Railroad, repairing the rails. He spent some time as a Teamsters Union Rep in Chicago, but was asked to leave,because he wouldn’t compromise on workers’ rights. I was so very proud that he made a stand like that, sacrificing a high slaried career for his fellow workers. He’s getting married this Fall.

My second son joined the Air Force in response to 9/11 and did two tours. He’s married and is a better Dad than I ever was. He’s a Master Sergeant in the Air National Guard in charge of a maintenance group.

My third, a daughter, is working to get her Masters in Physical Therapy. In H.S. she ran track and cross country. Ever see the movie “Conspiracy Theory?” When Mel Gibson’s character responds to the bad guy trying to catch her “You’ve never seen her run!” I always tried to be there to watch her run. Her stride was like that of the great Olympian, Wilma Rudolph. I loved to watch her run. We played a game when she was little where would get across the room and run towards me. I pretended to be scared as she leaped into my arms. I would swing her around and play the game again and again. It was fun.

My fourth, Phillip, had a rough start as a baby, but now he’s a strapping young lad who is also determined to help others. He uses his knowledge at his Gym to help whoever needs it. Gratis. One morning I collapsed from low sugar, and he was the only one around who was strong enough to pick me up and help me restore my levels, probably saving my life.

My fifth has three boys…Payback? Any ways, he joined the Army as an infantryman in response to 9/11, doing his tour of duty in the Theater of Operations, going out on patrol, and so on. He’s now a Union Rep fighting for nurses and other hospital workers.

So, they are all serving their fellow man, which in my assessment is pretty righteous.

Well, they turned out pretty well in spite of my failures as a Dad.

Every Fathers Day, despite my efforts to dissuade them, they tell me what a great Dad I am. I’m glad they’re being so polite…But everybody else knows better, including me…



D L Henderson

Born 1950; HS 1968; Born again 1972; Cornell ILR; Steward, Local President/Business Agent; Husband, father, grandfather; winner/loser/everything in between