I penned this a year ago. Being a dad is not easy. Not being a dad when you can is worse.
This week is the celebration of Father’s Day. If you were looking for a list, I am probably not the right person and this is not the right place. I have made my share of mistakes. Even after the birth of my youngest daughter, there were things I was still “working on.” And as I look around I see that I am not the only one who figured it out the hard way. But I credit my dad and few other “dads” with standing with me during difficult times.
In this day and age, it is often hard to tell what is important and carries forth to the next generation. Frequently it looks like so much has lost meaning, where do we begin? I heard the other day that much of the young generation has struggled with identifying “hero’s” because so many of them have let them down. As a child, like so many others I had my heroes. They were often time men or women I read about in biographies like frontiersman and soldiers, people I watched on TV, sports figures and a few teachers over the years. But certainly one of my heroes was my dad. And the thoughts of him and how he did things often leads me to people with similar drives and thought process. He was a hero to me.
My dad was a simple man. A person born out of the “depression” in the northern regions of New York. Out of those times he learned the basics of survival, whether it was hunting and fishing,
farming or building. None of these became his career, just pieces that were building blocks in his life as he moved along. He spent 4 years of his younger years in war zones in the South Pacific, receiving 2 Purple Hearts and injuries that plagued him the rest of his life. He moved into the field of industry taking a job in the architectural hardware field. He bought a little home for his new family and continued to press forward towards the American dream, always desiring for his children more than he had as a youngster. Over the years he went up the ladder in business and laid before my brothers and sister a legacy of hard work and integrity.
Quite honestly I miss my dad. He died February 13th of 1998. (But my step-mom still received flowers from him the following day for Valentine’s Day.) A lot of my life as shaped by my dad. As I have watched my children grow up and strike out on their own, it would be nice to see his face looking at the legacy he left behind. As I spent much of his last year driving him to appointments and treatments, I still saw the man I knew inside.
I spend a lot of time with young people. My “job” in the coming years is to make sure that the ceiling
of my life is the floor for theirs. Yes it “consumes” time but many of these young men and women have not had a dad or even a “home” of sorts. They have often watched their “heroes” succumb to addictions and lies. I often share with them that one of the greatest attributes of a “hero” will be character. Character is not something that comes easy but is refined in the fires of adversity. Working with my children and even my grandchildren, I have watched their lives shaped by circumstances and their response to them. They have learned that there are “heroes” out there. Men and women who do not waver on the “issues” but with humility and patience head towards the goal.
I watched my grandchildren play baseball the last few months. After 50 years of being around “Little League” I am still shocked by parents who berate and belittle, and I point out to my grandchildren the faithfulness and the kindness of those that don’t. My wife and I made sure to be at all the games and the practices, because frankly, their “dad” hasn’t.
America needs a few heroes. Our children certainly do. Fatherhood is not intended to be a spectator sport. It is something that requires getting our hands dirty. It requires sacrifices of our time. I live near a couple of young children who’s dad has made the choice to not be in their life. If I walk out the door and they see me or one of my sons they walk on over. Do you want to be a hero? Be involved.
To all the dads out there (As well as all you moms.) can I encourage you? Don’t give up. Your patience and faithfulness over time will grow large in your child’s eyes. Your mistakes will be “forgotten” as you hang in there with them. They will make mistakes. They will not be you. And each one of your children will be different. But I promise you if you will hang in there, there is hope. As I spend the weekend with my children and grandchildren they would tell you “Dad made mistakes. Lots of them!” It is not about always being able, but more realistically being available.
People want to change our country. Honestly, I think the change will begin with you. And heroes do not always wear uniforms and do not always have a weapon. They don’t always drive cool cars or have the latest clothes. Sometimes they just have outstretched arms.
Children need heroes. Be one.