Fathers Day, for me, can be summed up in a handful of photographs. This is one of them:
I’m the one on the left with graying hair and a graying beard. The two angels before me are my (step) daughters, and the formidable young men to the right are my sons.
So there’s no misunderstanding, or any ambiguity about my love for, or commitment to my children… I have been knocked down, knocked for a loop, had the rug yanked out from under me, been bankrupted, and been otherwise toppled along this road by a number of different things. But I’m still standing. They are still standing. I have never, and will never give up. Not in 9 years. Not in 900 years. If that has been well-demonstrated, as I believe it has been, I hope a better path will emerge as we move forward.
My sons’ step-Dad took this picture for us. I’m grateful for him taking it, and being so happy to do it.
HAPPY FATHERS DAY, MR. P.! I hope you read this so you know the gratitude I’ve expressed to you personally wasn’t just some show to make nice. You’ve done such an incredible job, and I can’t thank you enough. I know precisely why you have done what you have for our sons… for the same reason I do what I do for my daughters. I love you and respect you for that choice, sir. Thank you so much for being so good to our sons. And your daughters are truly precious. I hope the joy they give as you raise them far outweighs the pains involved with getting it done!
Fathers Day, Rebooted
Fathers Day always falls on Sunday, so I’ve always called the boys. Still, we managed to connect so few times. Over these years, I didn’t know how to articulate my own feelings about “Fathers Day.” Now I understand that being a father has been my privilege, and that the adage is true: the child truly does give birth to the parent. So any thanks or whatever any of them might feel like expressing to me can be best delivered by allowing me to express to them: Thank YOU for being the young men you are, for creating my purpose, and for rewarding my faith and persistence in remaining connected to you when and where you can. It is my sincerest hope that your relationships with your mother and I both are as rewarding and as fulfilling as they can possibly be. I will gladly give all I can in contribution to those efforts.
So… yea… Fathers Day is an opportunity to say, “Hey kids, thank you so much for allowing me to give what I’ve been able to give to you. I’d like to give more. Just say when.” I hope they’re listening, and that they always remember.
Fathers Day Thanks
First and foremost, I want to thank Dads who struggle to remain connected to their kids. I know your pain first-hand. I know that struggle. You have likely already “dealt” with more than you believed yourself capable of dealing with. That strength is borne of the love you have for your children. More difficult challenges may lie ahead, but that same strength will overcome those trials, too. Trust in that. Let your faith in it feed your resilience, and your resilience lead to better relationships with your kids.
To my father for giving me life, a measure of talent with music, an insatiably curious mind, and the opportunity for me to become the man I am. Upon your choice to have me lies my access to any and all I am grateful for. Thanks of any sort are insufficient for this gift. The soundtrack of my youth is an audible treatise of exemplary musicianship, writing and artistry. These influences remain so strong that many of them are the standard by which I measure the artistry of another. These titans, and the lingering hum of harmonious singing in my grandparents’ home echo through my past. You and your brothers made magic happen when you played your guitars and sang together. I can’t express how much this all has enriched my life and experience of it.
To my Dad for loving my sister and I, for choosing us, and for showing us a lot of the appreciation side of what one earns through hard work. Nobody is perfect, but the universe knew what it was doing when it paired me with you. So different in so many ways. I am short and stocky (don’t you dare say chubby), you’re taller and lanky. You’re athletic and I… well, if it wasn’t grappling or Muay Thai I didn’t seem to have much athleticism (and the other two were only so-so at best, if we’re being honest). And I envy you, still, the certainty and finality you had whenever you said, “That’s the breaks.” You meant it, and you moved on. The example you set was the primacy of family; your own, and in the tireless support you showed my mother and her family in their times of need. I don’t know if you were thinking about it, but I dare say that example has stuck with me. It has been the most important lesson of my life. It is at the foundation of who I am. So if you ever wondered if I was paying attention, I was. I hope my actions have demonstrated that for a long while, even if you don’t happen to see it just yet. Remember when you had to make a choice that you couldn’t unmake. Think about your “why,” and if my sister and I are there, then we’ve near perfect understanding of each other. In 10 lifetimes, I couldn’t thank you enough for what you’ve given to me.
To My Brothers Who Won’t Get a Call, Text, or Card today
No words will assuage your anguish. I know this because I have been there. I am not here empty-handed though. What I have to offer you hurts at first. I won’t lie about that. While I worked through it alone, I wish I’d have had a resource of support instead. I wish I had someone to coach me through that crap because the temptation to make silly (and harmful) mistakes is so great. You’ll feel justified at the time, but when you calm down a bit, you’ll have one more thing to regret.
This isn’t about money. I know dads in this position don’t have any, or if you do, you’re putting that back so you can do what you must for your children. This is about honesty, about solidarity, about introspection, about commitment, accountability, and becoming the BEST DADS WE CAN BE FOR OUR KIDS, NO MATTER WHAT. Because our children are so much more than worth it.
So if your phone won’t ring today, or no card came yesterday (with no hope of one being there tomorrow), I truly sympathize. I challenge you to assess yourself as honestly and as objectively as you can. You won’t like everything you see. I believe you will see easy improvements to make on ways you are currently doing things. In some cases, those improvements could be significant. Through this exercise, you should also realize (or begin to) that it all really does start, or end, or continue through you. That is the power inherent in your choice. And everything is at stake.
Do not ignore or give away this power. Use it. DECIDE, dammit. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please send me a message. Today. We’ll turn this into a Fathers Day after all.
Be richly and abundantly blessed!