Ever have a morning where things hit you like a ton of bricks and you weren't expecting it at all? I had one of those mornings. I looked forward to Father's Day since, for the past 2 years, I have had the blessing of being the step-dad to two wonderful kids. However, I woke up this morning to the full meaning of Father's Day.
My step-kids are with their father today, although I they will be home later. I also woke up to the heartbreak of missing my dad, who has been gone almost 2 years now, although this morning it felt like yesterday.
My father made me who I am today. He taught me not only the meaning, but also the actions of the words honor, integrity, hard work and dedication. He and I didn't always get along, mostly, according to my mother, because he and I were so much alike that it was like we were fighting with ourselves. I realized that in later years, when a young man grows to suddenly realize his father must have been studying a lot because he was so much wiser now than when he was when I was in my early twenties and knew everything.
Three years ago, I moved from the Cleveland, Ohio area to Vancouver, Washington and no one was happier about the move than my dad. He told me that it was the start of a great adventure and now our name will be known across the country instead of just the Midwest. He was like that. Sometimes quiet and introspective, sometimes larger than life. I was married out here and started a great life. Then, I got a phone call from my brother, and then my aunt telling me I needed to travel back to Ohio and I needed to come now.
In just over a year since I had left, my dad's health problems, thanks to years of smoking, had turned much worse. I remembered him with his oxygen tank always present but still full of life and vigor. When I got back to Ohio, I saw a man who had seemingly aged 30 years in the past year. He looked helpless in the bed at hospice, and a shell of the man I remembered. Over the course of a week, I sat by his bed and watched him die. I returned to Washington determined to live life to its fullest and be the best step-dad I could possibly be to my new family. Am I succeeding? I don't know. I found out there is no true manual for fatherhood, just things my dad taught me and large doses of common sense. I don't always get it right, and when I don't, I find myself wishing I could just call my dad like I used to. There have even been times I have actually picked up the phone, then realized that there is no one to call.
Why am I writing this? I have no idea. I guess I just needed to get the words out, and hopefully get the point across to others. I wish I could call my dad for advice on parenting as well as business, he was a very successful entrepreneur. I can't. But there are many who still can. Don't wake up with the regrets I have this morning. Spend time with your dads, let them know what they mean to you and soak up the knowledge they give. There will be a morning where you wake up and know that there willl be no more calls, no more cookouts, no more just sitting and watching a ballgame with him.
For all of you dads out there, Happy Father's Day! Enjoy the day and your family. Cherish what you have as I will when the kids get home later. I hope to give them the memories my dad gave me. Of spending time laying on the floor coloring, building things together, playing catch and showing them that, while I do spend a lot of time at the office, I do it for them and will give them my undivided attention when I am home. I don't mean to be a downer on a happy day, but cherish what you have, for it will not always be there. What is left is happy memories. My biggest regret is that my dad never met my step-kids in person, they would have loved him and he would have loved them. I fixed that last year when I brought the wife and kids to Ohio and they got to meet my mother and step-dad as well as my step-mom and all of their aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.
Today might be a Hallmark holiday, but think about the deeper meaning and what it means to you. Happy Father's Day to all.