My dad is 91 years old and has out-lived all of his siblings. He was born in Scotland, came over when he was just 3-years-old, grew up in West Virginia, joined the Navy when World War II broke out, returned home, migrated to California, went to work for United Airlines, worked there 37 years and then retired. He and mom still live in the same home they bought in Torrance, CA back in 1952.
That’s a capsulized version of his life. There was so much more, especially when it came to his family. He gave it his all, working his way up at United until he had the day shift. By then, I was old enough to realize what was going on. He played catch with me endlessly in the backyard, even crouching down for hour after hour like a catcher so that I could hone my pitching skills. His often-told story is when I was 10 and hit my first and only Little League home run, he was dealing with the unruly kids in the dugout as our manager and missed the whole thing.
I could write pages about my father and it would all be praise and accolades. But by the time we’re this old, not all of our friends’ parents are still around. Some would rather not make a big deal about it, since their dad is no longer with us.
Or, they had a lousy father. That happens and I know a few people that either never really knew their dad, or wished they hadn’t. For them, also, the whole Father’s Day deal rubs a little salt in their wounds.
So, I shift my attention to my kids and their peers. My son-in-law Ryan is a very dedicated dad and his faith and family are number one in his life. As a father, you just can’t ask for much more. But then, there are other people my kids’ age who haven’t had kids yet, or have found out that they can’t. So, they won’t be celebrating this Sunday, either.
I have to admit that being a father, raising two kids and watching them settle into their own lives is one of the most rewarding things I ever did. If I were to go back and critique how I fulfilled my role, I would get an A for effort. I was there for a lot of their childhood–every concert, sports practice, game, club meeting, you name it. Getting up at 2:20am and being done most days by noon helped make that happen.
But you just don’t realize how quickly it goes by. How one minute you’re holding your little girl’s hand in a store and the next minute she’s raising a family of her own with two kids. How you’re shooting hoops with a little guy in the driveway who can barely get the ball in the air and the next thing you know, you’re having beers with a 30-year-old version of him in a tavern.
I’m grateful for so much when it comes to Father’s Day–for the dad that showed me how, for the experience I so thoroughly enjoyed and to be able to watch the next generation try their hand at it. But I’ve always been uncomfortable about a day that’s aimed at “honoring” me. I’m glad and proud to be a dad, but frankly, I should be thanking everyone else.
I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day, either as an appreciator or as a recipient. For me, it really is a day that should be more about giving thanks, but that name was already taken.