Three chips off the old buck
By Dennis Jensen
STAFF WRITER | June 16,2013
Iím a man who has been blessed by many things. I had a rewarding career as a newspaperman for 37 years, 33 of those years at the Rutland Herald.
I married a wonderful, smart, sweet, gorgeous, caring woman ó my high school sweetheart. Weíve been married for 43 years.
Iíve been blessed with a love of the outdoors, an appreciation of nature that goes back to my boyhood.
I enjoy the outdoors ó mountain biking, bird-watching, nature photography, hiking and just walking the woods.
I love to hunt and fish. Iíd like to think Iím a pretty successful fisherman, turkey hunter and deer hunter. And Iím proud of my successes and, yes, clearly remember my failures.
But the one thing I am most proud of is my three sons ó Daniel, Michael and Matthew.
I introduced my sons to the natural world when they were very young. I took the boys on long walks in the woods, when getting up hills, crossing streams and climbing over stone walls was a real challenge for them.
We would ramble and explore wherever our feet led us. We caught crayfish in the stream across the road, picked up red efts. We caught garder snakes. Like all children, my boys were reluctant to handle these strange, wonderful reptiles, but I wanted them to understand, early on, the important role that snakes play in the world of nature.
I took them fishing when they were young boys. Those days have a particular place in my heart.
These days, the boys are busy with their own children and careers and we donít get out to ďrambleĒ in the woods like we used to. They are busy now, being men and fathers. But we do get out, at times, ice fishing, sitting next to each other on a dark Maine night, fishing for stripers, trying to coax in a gobbler in springtime or just reminiscing about earlier days.
Itís easy being a father. Itís a lot tougher ó and far better ó being a father to your children.
Like their father, the boys are far from perfect. But if anything makes my heart swell with pride, it is when someone, unsolicited, tells me that we raised a good bunch of kids.
Every once in a while, I will get an e-mail from the physical education teacher at Fair Haven Union High School, where my boys attended school.
A skilled bow hunter, this teacher writes to tell me about how he enjoyed a particular column.
But one day that teacher, Tom Blackbird, went off-subject, out of the blue. He said he wanted me to know how much he enjoyed having my kids in his class. He went on to tell me that they were good, respectful young men.
I was overwhelmed, for nearly two decades have passed since the youngest son graduated and that e-mail only came my way a few years back.
Only a handful of e-mails that I have received really stick out in my mind. But that e-mail? That will always be the most rewarding I have ever received.
I recall having a conversation, perhaps 15 years ago, with a guy I served with in Vietnam. We were attending the 50th birthday party of another veteran who served with us. The guy was really down, telling me that his wife had left him and how his kids were alienated from him.
He went on to say that, while it was true that he spent almost all of his time at his job, he did it all for his family. The guy called me at home a few days later and, again, he was whining about how rough things had gone for him. Then he made the mistake of asking me what I thought of the whole, sad affair.
So I gave him my honest opinion. I told him that I felt really bad that he had lost his wife and kids. Then I told him that, in my view, he took the easy way out. Itís a lot easier to make a lot of money than it is to be there, every day, for your kids, to encourage them when things go wrong, to look them in the eyes and chastise them when they did something that was less than honorable, to love them unconditionally.
I never heard from him again.
I know Iíll enjoy Fatherís Day. The presents and the cards will mean a lot. The pork-fest, when my wife serves up a scrumptious mix of ribs, sausage and potato salad, will help to make the day.
But nothing that happens on Fatherís Day will mean more than the fact that I have three wonderful kids, manifested by all of the flaws and wonder brought forth by a strange, exotic mixture of genes passed along by untold generations.
Happy Fatherís Day indeed.