It’s Father’s Day today. One of my favorite days of the year really. I am fortunate to be a dad myself. Today isn’t about me though, it’s about my dad, and all the real dad’s out there. It’s not difficult to father a child, most any guy can do that. However, being a father, being a dad, that takes time, effort, patience, perseverance, and belief in something greater than yourself. For me, and for many, that something greater is God. I know there are millions of dads out there who, like me, believe in God, trust in Him, and have prayed often, just to keep our dad heads above water.
Fathers get their instructions in fatherhood passed down to them from their fathers. Each of them also brings their own experience and observation to the position of dad. My dad learned from his dad, and he’s done the best he could do with the tools he has. I know now, that there is only so much that can be prepared for or practiced for, the rest is based on who and how you are, and the support you have around you.
Hey, we are guys. Men. Many of the stereotypes are true. Some are not. We are also fathers. As a man and father, I have made more mistakes than I would care to admit. I’m sure a lot of fathers have.
Fathers though, they show up. They are there when needed. They know how important it is to be the example for their own flesh and blood. They love every way they know how to love, maybe they even learn new ways to love based on the needs of fatherhood. They won’t take no for an answer if it’s the right thing for their kids. They won’t be denied. Fathers continue to parent, believe, nurture, love, and teach, even when they’d rather be doing anything else. They know when to run, when to stand firm, when to laugh, when to lead, and when to cry. And if they don’t know, they learn. They teach their kids the right ways to do things. They teach their kids the logical ways to look at things, and make good decisions. They deliver discipline even if it breaks their own hearts to do so. They love and care more, than they, often times, even know how to express. They would give the shirt off their back, and always know how and when to be polite, respectful, and show proper manners. They are strong and seemingly unafraid, at least as far as their kids are concerned. Fathers are afraid too, but they still go, they check things out, they protect, they lead, that’s what father’s do. They are accountable and responsible. They respectfully trust their own broad shoulders more than anyone else’s, again, especially as it relates to their own kids. Father’s are their own men. They leave their own signature. They pursue their dreams, while carving their legacy, and supporting their kids dreams. They live for the moments when they are present, participating, and among those they’ve fathered. These are the real fathers.
All the things listed above are the same reasons why I can’t understand how some men who father children never show up for the most important job they could ever hold. Pointing the finger directly at myself, I have missed way too many times as a dad in my own experience. Still, many who have fathered, don’t ever show up, or are only willing to contribute if it’s convenient enough to do so. Like, many things though, the true rewards of fatherhood are hard to come by, and certainly are not convenient. Most any father, can be a real father, a dad, but many had no intention to do so, and never will. Excuses kick in, rewards are hidden by risks, and fatherhood never happens. Time marches on and any father who knows he’s a father also knows where he should be. Still, many don’t show. Selfish and caught up in some version of the truth they sell themselves, some who father, stand idly by, pretending not to care, or portraying themselves as some victim of anti-fatherhood fiction. In some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy that we sometimes wish would turn out differently, these could be real fathers virtually disappear in a haze of guilt and self-pity, while their own flesh and blood grow, live, learn, and wonder. These men don’t embody the behaviors listed above. They don’t value the principles involved. They don’t understand for some reason, or they choose to ignore the responsibilities that could lead them to the greatest moments of their lives. They are not real fathers.
My father was and is a real father. I love my dad. He was given instruction too, but the instruction he gave, had a completely different feel. He put his signature on being dad, and he still does. My dad
lived on the lighter side of serious. He could be serious, don’t get me wrong, but he’d rather laugh, enjoy, and be at peace with life. My dad was athletic, he could play anything. I’m pretty sure that had he wanted to really pursue any sport seriously, he would have been exceptional in any that he took up. He supported us playing sports and still enjoys his grandchildren participating in sports. My dad told jokes, wasn’t afraid to be himself, and he still does.
My dad taught me how to throw a ball. He taught me to properly shoot a basketball. He taught me how to use a baseball glove. He played catch with me, and shot hoops with me. He took me for rides and listened to the thousands of questions I would ask. He didn’t need to have all the answers, and I didn’t care if he did because I just wanted to be the cool kid riding with his dad. My dad taught me to respect the Word of God, to pray, and to better understand the lessons in both. He taught me to give and to be generous. He taught me to respect others and to learn manners. He taught me that laughing and seeing humor in things were good things. My dad told me about his boyhood heroes and those whom he respected through his adult life. He told me stories of Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams. He took me to my first Red Sox game, and many more. He taught me how to score a game in the program. He pointed out things I wouldn’t have seen or learned for myself. I was happy to be at his side, no matter what we were doing.
Later on, when I obviously knew more than he did, and I was too cool to be hanging with my dad, he still showed up. He still watched me pitch, or he watched me play basketball. I don’t remember him ever needing to be the center of any of that attention, he was just there because I was his son. He was always so proud of what any of us kids accomplished. He still is. I’m pretty sure his favorite moments in life were the times he bragged on about us kids. He told anyone who would listen what we were doing, or what we had accomplished. I also learned this from my dad as nothing brings me more joy than seeing my kids perform, compete, or accomplish. Then I can share, and brag on them.
My dad taught me more things than I could ever count, or even remember. He will always be my dad, and no one, or no thing could ever take that away. We don’t get to pick our parents. Thank God for that. I have exactly the right parents, the right dad. Being a father myself, I know that I’ll always mean more to him than I could ever convey that he means to me. That may sound bad, but if you’re a parent you know. That said, I love my dad. He means the world to me, he’s my dad. He was and is present. He showed up. He took on his role and led his family whether he knew what to do or not. My dad gave of himself for the betterment of his kids as all real fathers do. He did what he had to do whether he was afraid or not.
Nowadays some of my favorite moments are still spent at my dad’s side, talking, joking, laughing, and enjoying each others company. Today I will see my dad a little later this afternoon. I’m looking forward to it. Happy Father’s Day Dad! You’re a real father and I’m so thankful for that. Thank you for all the moments throughout my lifetime when you did as you had to or as you knew to. I know it’s not easy, but thank you for being a real father. I love you.