Every third Sunday in June we celebrate Father’s Day, and it is worth noting that men who get called “Dad,” “Papa,” “Pop” or whatever other way it can be said deserve their special day. In this world of increasingly poor male role models, Dad can make all the difference for his sons and daughters.
I have been very fortunate to be able celebrate this day as a father these last 19 years, and before that I always thought of it as a day to give thanks for my wonderful father and my grandfathers. Everyone always buys those mugs, hats, and T-shirts with the words “Greatest Dad Ever” on them, but I am convinced my father more than deserved those gifts.
Now that Dad is gone this day is a tough one for me. On one hand I have to be happy as my kids and wife give me Father’s Day cards and gifts, but on the other I feel solemn because I cannot spend the day with Dad. Many others before me have had to deal with this, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I miss being able to say the word “Dad” to my father, and I still have his name and phone number in my cellphone because I can’t bring myself to delete it.
My Dad was so good to his children in so many ways – generous, loving, kind, helpful, and wise – but perhaps his greatest gift to us was time. He wanted to be with us and do things with us. I watched him all those years and had a great role model who had prepared me more than anything else to follow his lead as a father.
We have all heard it said that anyone can father children but not everyone can be a good dad, and this holds true today when we see fathers portrayed on television and in films as poor role models. Think about Homer Simpson who has been on TV seemingly forever portraying one of the worst fathers ever. No wonder his son Bart is the way he is.
Our culture needs to promote good role models as fathers because what kids see matters. They perceive that these fictitious depictions as being important and relevant in their lives.
When watching the original Star Wars films, my son once asked me, “Why was Darth Vader such a terrible dad? You would never try to hurt me.” In some ways I felt sorry for letting him see this relationship in the films, but then I realized that because of what he had seen he appreciated me and understood the difference between a terrible father and me.
I can think of all the things my father taught me every day. When I have to fix a pipe, put in a new electrical outlet, or make shelves for the playroom, I know I have him to thank for teaching me how to do these things. He taught me so many other things and, until literally the day before he passed away, I was still seeking his advice on things. My Dad was the best friend I ever had, and his absence in my life is difficult to accept. Still, I feel him with me all the time, and when I am trying to figure something out, I’ll whisper, “How should I do this, Dad?” Amazingly, the solution soon materializes and I feel as if his loving hand is on my shoulder.
I am aware there are enough Homer Simpsons and Darth Vaders out there to make some people not want to celebrate this day. Perhaps they more than anyone can explain how important a good father is in our lives.
Good dads are important for boys but also for girls as well. Daughters see their fathers as role models just as much as boys do, so that relationship is crucial as a girl grows up to be a woman who has a father who has shown her the way a man treats a woman with dignity and respect.
When my first child was born my father said, “Welcome to the toughest job in the world, but also the most rewarding!” After all these years I have to say once again that he was right. Now that I am older and wiser, I must admit that he was always right about most everything. My teenage self would disagree with me, but I would set myself straight if I could.
So, on this day, honor your dad and grandfathers if you are fortunate enough to still have them in your lives. If you have had a wonderful father like I have had, you know his value and the impact he has had on your life, and that impact is lasting because it affects your children and their children as well.
All I know is that after all this time when one of my kids calls me Dad, my heart still skips a beat.
Happy Father’s Day to you all!