In the spirit of Father’s Day, I’ve decided to begin by telling the tale of one of the best.
My father was born in the early 1930’s among the rolling hills of Arkansas, went to that state’s great university, served in the U.S. Air Force as a Sergeant during the Korean War, was employed for thirty plus years in the pharmaceutical industry after college, became married and stayed devoted to my mom for over forty years, was active in church, social organizations, and a dedicated father to my sister and I. He suddenly passed away in 2002, leaving behind his family, many friends, and a legacy of kindness and generosity which is greatly missed among those who knew him. He was an increasingly rare, man’s man who’s primary mission in life was to be a great husband, friend, co-worker, and above all else, dad. And there’s definitely a difference in someone just being a father.
I’ve never been a father, so I haven’t experienced all that comes along with being one. Rather, I can only look to mine as an example of what I would’ve striven to become if I had had children. My dad, from the moment I was born till the day he passed never stopped loving, watching over, and keeping tabs on me. He was the type who was rather relaxed, conservative, but not afraid to speak his mind when he felt strongly about something. If I had an issue or problem in my life, he’d give me his opinions without being judgmental and move forward. And if I decided to try anything different than most my age, he’d shake his head, point out the pros and cons, and let me go about my business, win or loose. It was as though he was content watching me suffer the consequences if things went wrong, therefore teaching me some valuable life lessons without being judgmental. But, the biggest thing about my father was that no matter when, day or night, I could call upon him if I ever needed anything, period. He didn’t care, because my mom, sister, and I were the most important parts of his life.
Some of the fondest memories sticking with me about my dad were during my early teenage years. I had taken a paper route delivering an afternoon newspaper. But on weekends, the papers reverted to being morning deliveries going with my lifelong dislike of early wakeup calls. Every Saturday and Sunday for around three years my dad would shake me awake, pull me out of bed, and sit with me on the street curb in the morning darkness to roll and rubber band the 100+ pieces of news. But, he made it fun. We’d always throw the papers in the front seat of his car while I sat on the window seal throwing them atop the porches in record time. Boy, did we stir awake a few sleepy eyes as I miss threw some, slapping the homes front doors, and rousing alive some barking house pets. Those are cherished moments for me; small envelopes of time among early hours when dad and son connected talking about school, girls, friends, and whatever else filled my mind. I know now that he was also teaching me responsibility, reliability, and work ethics at a very young age. But above it all, he demonstrated what was truly most important to him.
When I tell others about my father I oftentimes feel bad, almost guilty that I had such a good one. Maybe it’s because so many have grown up without theirs, or don’t have the special relationship like I had with mine. And it’s a fact of society that growing up without a caring father, or mother, directly affects those individuals not having that exclusive bond.
I wish everyone could have what I had. And I think about my dad everyday, wondering what he’s doing right now, but comforted in the knowledge that I’ll see him again. Who knows, maybe they have paper routes in heaven!
This father’s day call, or go see your father; if you haven’t spoken with him in a while, or don’t carry a good relationship, put out a little effort and try and reconnect. If you’ve lost yours, like I have mine, honor him somehow. Place a flower on his tombstone, say a prayer, light a candle, or talk about him with those who knew him best. And if you are a father, be the best you can be. But most importantly, be a dad.
To all the fathers out there…