I keep a tin box in my closet that holds a lot of valuables. No, they’re not the kind that someone would want to break into my house to steal. It’s merely a box of cards; all kinds of cards.
There are birthday cards and Christmas cards and anniversary cards and even Father’s Day cards that I’ve received over the years from a family and friends, some dating back well over three decades. It’s the Father’s Day ones that are on my mind as I write this.
That special Sunday is upon us again. I can’t speak for all fathers, but being together with family is the most important gift that can be given, even more so than the proverbial necktie that seems to get a bad rap this time of year and at Christmas.
It’s not about new tools or golf accessories, or a subscription to Sports Illustrated, or even a box of ammunition, as precious and coveted as that is these days.
It’s about family.
Just being a dad is an amazing honor. It’s a might bewildering initially, trying to figure out how to actually be a father. Dirty diapers, burping sessions, and sleepless nights are not what you had in mind when you decided to bring a new human being into the world.
But you get the hang of it.
First words are music to your heart and first steps are suddenly more important than any fish you’ve ever caught, believe me. Whether is a daughter or a son, you’ll be attentive and nurturing, and you’ll soon realize that somehow, this little person has always been with you.
You’ll be seeing them off to their first day of school one day, and then in no time you’ll anxiously be watching them drive away for the first time when they get their license.
And you won’t rest easy until they get back home.
The years will slip away faster than you know, taking with them memories of birthday parties, family dinners, bike lessons and skinned knees, vacations, and more.
You’ll go from tossing a ball with them to watching them play school sports in the blink of an eye.
Not long after those “terrible twos” will come the teenage years, usually bringing with it some estrangement. They’ll be trying to navigate the changes while you’re trying to figure out who they’re becoming.
But that’s just normal, and you’ll both survive intact.
They’ll be too cool to relate to you for a few years and will realize that the opposite sex might not have cooties after all. That’s all part of it too, so just stay the course and give him or her some space, because they’ll sure be giving you more space than you actually want or need.
And then right about the time they’re grown and gone, and starting their own family, you’ll wonder if you did a good job raising them.
If you did the best you could with what resources and love you had for them, you did fine. Think back on your own upbringing and see how it lines up with that.
If your parents are still living, thank them and know that they’ve been on standby all the while, ready to share answers to the questions you likely never asked about being a dad. That may not become apparent to you until you’re watching your own children raise theirs, but always have advice ready, just in case.
Each Father’s Day is special, whether yours is still alive or not.
Realize this: When you pass along the goodness from him to your children and grandchildren, he lives on through you and them.
That’s a big responsibility, but it’s also an amazing blessing that can assure you that you’re part of something bigger than yourself, and that something is unconditional love.