Diving at Powers Pond
When I was a young child, one of my favorite things to do with my dad was swim. He was a powerful swimmer. Often he and others would swim across Schroon Lake and back from the point where we stayed. And he loved to dive. He would often go out and recover things dropped in the water at what seemed to be astounding depths to me as a child. One place was sounded at 32 feet and yet he recovered the missing part that had fallen into the water.
But perhaps one of my fondest memories was at a place called Powers Pond. My family had a membership and we were over there all the time to swim.
In the middle of the swimming pond was a dock. The water was deep and dark. My dad often swam out there to get away from the kids! One day the owner told him about the loss of a gold bracelet one of the members had lost. I heard the conversation but did not give it much more than a quick thought. Later my dad swam out to the dock. I was watching him from the top of the slide. He dove off and as I watched I expected him to come back up and swim towards shore for a picnic lunch my mom had prepared.
But he did not come up…I began to get nervous. I slid into the water and began to swim. And then his hand came up. In it…the bracelet. He swam to the shore and presented it to the owner of the club.
The man said, “it is over 20 feet deep there!” My dad said it was very dark and he could feel the mud but then he found it.
My dad walked off in his purple trunks to eat some chicken.
It made a difference in my life. The story of the find soon spread. I was super proud of my dad.
Little League President
My dad had been my coach for a very long time. He had moved to manager. Over the years my dad taught me more about baseball than any coach or manager. He was harder on me than any other, too!
And then one day they announced he was going to be the president of Little League in our town. 18 minor league teams (9-12) and 8 majors (12-16). And in that moment he coached me for the last time. I never saw him at games any more. (I guess it is true that there is less wriggle room at the top.)
Everyone wanted to talk to me about my dad. It was hard for me. Inside I hurt. Outside I was happy, proud. He did that for a few years.
We never really talked baseball much after that.Not even sure if we ever played. But it was in me.
Years later he saw me coach Little League (Long before I had kids!) and he said to me “thanks”.
Cub Scout Pack Leader
My dad always taught me about things long before “I got there”. He taught me about hunting and animals. About knots and Jiu Jitsu. About all the things a kid wanted to know in my time.
And when I joined Cub Scouts, he shared my love for going through the levels. And then they had a need for a Cub Scout Pack Leader. His name came up and he accepted. I was so proud. He never participated in anything but the outside projects but he was there.
Nothing was more powerful than having my name called out for those little gold and silver arrowheads that would be sown on my uniform. To stand in front of my dad.
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.
A couple of years ago, I watched my grandchildren play baseball the last few months of school. 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.