By Deborah Hamilton-Lynne
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me .” – Jim Valvano
Family relationships are always tricky. We spend a lot of our lives trying to live up to the expectations of our parents only to learn after we become parents ourselves that perhaps our perception of those expectations really weren’t their expectations at all.
Personally, I am still trying to figure it all out, but one thing I know for sure is that my father always believed in me. He has offered advice when asked and listened to all of my harebrained “genius” ideas with an analytical ear, but never once has he said to me, “I don’t believe you can do that.”
I believe that most fathers hope their children will learn from their mistakes and perhaps choose a different path, but there are many ways we learn lessons from our fathers. From my father, I learned many things that later became the core of who I am today.
From him, I learned a great love of the outdoors and respect for nature. Well in to his 70s, my father would carry 30 pounds of fingerling trout on his back in a basket up rivers and streams, walking more than five miles to release them in an effort to preserve endangered species.
I learned that the political process is important, each vote counts, citizenship in this country is a privilege and a responsibility. During his retirement, he has faithfully worked the polls on election days and campaigned for candidates that shared his progressive values.
I learned to always do my best before putting my name on anything because honor is important. I learned to value freedom—personal and political—education, healthy and informed debate, curiosity and the power of love.
Growing up, my father did not have to raise a hand or his voice to me. All it took was a sentence I never wanted to hear: “I am disappointed in you.” In truth, I always knew that there were many times he didn’t understand me or my choices, but he always seemed to allow me to be myself and oftentimes was intrigued by the process of watching me coming in to my own.
In this issue, we look at fathers, lessons from our fathers and the relationship between fathers and sons. Steve Uhler provides a fascinating look at four young men who are the sons of well-known musicians and have chosen to follow their fathers in to the business. There is probably no more recognizable or revered celebrity in Austin than Willie Nelson, and sharing his name and legacy has meant different things for sons Lukas and Micah, both of whom are their own men with their own musical sounds and aspirations. Rising sons Colin Gilmore and Warren Hood also provide an insightful look at the family tradition that led them to their love of music and pursuit of it as a career.
Claudia Fontaine Chidester grew up the daughter of accomplished painter Paul Fontaine, and always knew that not only was her father’s art exceptional, but also that his experiences and the way he lived his life were exceptional, so much so that she decided to share them both in one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen, Work Standing Up: The Life and Art of Paul Fontaine.
In honor of Father’s Day and lessons we learn from our fathers, we are pleased that she has shared those lessons and her father’s art with us. I don’t know about you, but when the hot summer days are upon us, my mouth waters for a cold margarita. I learned a lot about tequila, the quintessential ingredient in my favorite beverage, from our spirits guru, Matt McGinnis.
This issue also marks our third anniversary, and this issue includes a retrospective of the exceptional men who have graced our covers. We begin our fourth year of publication eagerly and with excitement to bring you all of the things that make ATX the place to be and Austin men the most fascinating and progressive men anywhere. I am grateful for everyone who has made this possible and give thanks for the writers and photographers, the men who have gracefully shared their lives and stories, the AW Media staff and especially our editorial team, who works tirelessly to put each issue together.
Roy Spence said it best when he said that although Father’s Day comes but once a year, every day is Father’s Day and provides a chance to be the best father he can be. With that thought in mind, let me say that although we celebrate the anniversary of ATX Man once a year, each issue provides us with a chance to be the best we can be and bring you the best of everything this great city has to offer. So please come celebrate with us on June 3 at the Thinkery. Let us indeed eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we will have important work to do.
Photo by Destry Jaimes.