It has been a very unusual father’s day. Today I contacted a good number of my friends who are dads and wished them well. Today is very different. One might think this is due to the fact I am getting older, but seven years after my father’s passing I have finally moved beyond the” void. ” Do not believe that you ever truly recover from the loss of a parent or a loved one, for that matter. But somewhere in your life’s journey, you reach a truce. It is a special place where you can celebrate the gift of the person, in this case my father, as a gift. Over the years I have written a fair amount about my father’s absence.
This father’s day, I should like to write about his presence. As I look at my hands typing on the laptop, I cannot help but smile. I am looking as his hands. They are unusual in that they are rough as someone who might work with the hands, would have. But these are the hands of someone who relies on his mind more than his hands, just as he had.
We are both very similar: introverts, who enjoy solitude; fathers, who treasure family; doers, who enjoy work; and adventures, who enjoy being home. For many years, if family members said I was just like dad or did something the way he did, it would not have been accepted as a compliment. That has changes so profoundly. Now that is a true, high tribute. As young adults we spend so much time distancing ourselves from our parents…as we get older we make the journey back. The same is happening with my children. Each is on a life journey unique to each. Our home is safe harbour, but each engages life in a unique way. The irony is I can see myself and their mother in them. The challenge to make sure that the steps are their own. We can provide advice when asked, but not without an invitation.
Our oldest son Matthew and his wife Christina had twins last fall. It has changed the family. It reminds us that the next generation follows. Life has seasons and so do we. My father was one of those people who was always ‘of’ the moment. Your first responsibility, every moment, was to your family. As I watch Matt and Christina, this father’s day, my father’s spirit and example is in Matthew. Twins tend to skip generations. My grandmother was a twin, my granddaughters are twins. Athletic ability does too.
My father was a great athlete, particularly in basketball and tennis. Matt is an equally talented and passionate athlete. Sports are a great classroom for life. One of my father’s best lessons about being of the moment was very simple: “Keep your eye on the ball.” Matthew is keeping his eye on the ball, and making points. His grandfather and his father are both proud.
If you take the time to look around while on your life’s journey you can learn so much, and if you are lucky learn the lessons sooner rather than having to repeat them. You have heard about the wisdom of the life lessons that you learn in kindergarten. My father’s lessons are also valuable: 1. look after your brothers and sisters; take care of your family, particularly children and parents; 2. always do your best; 3. leave things in better condition that when you found them, 4. be adventuresome: reach beyond the known; 5. live a life of purpose in service to others. Five ingredients for the recipe for a life well lived.
Happy Fathers Day.