Father’s Day is tomorrow.
My dad is gone now. But I would have gone out to Mom and Dad’s and given him a card. He would have cried because he got very sentimental in his older years. We quit doing presents years ago because he really didn’t need anything. The last couple of years I brought Cold Stone Ice Cream Cakes. He really liked those.
My dad and I had a rough relationship. I was the oldest of four and he had an anger management problem. I got the brunt of it. By the time my sister Tracey came around ten years later, he had mellowed a lot. She had a different father than I did. Her childhood memories are totally different than mine.
I came to terms with that a long time ago. I loved my dad, but there were a lot of things about him that I didn’t like. He was autocratic, hard headed, crabby and yelled a lot. For a long time, all I thought about were the dark times. The anger, the spankings, the unfairness of it all.
After I had kids, I was dumfounded when they would bring up the times I was angry with them. The times I yelled. Didn’t they remember all the good stuff? The sacrifices I made? The trips, the laughter, the fun?
That made me rethink my relationship with my dad, and remember that it wasn’t all bad. He built a tetherball for me in the back yard. He took us to drive in movies and let mom stay home for some relief from four kids. He taught me how to play pinochle. He built a barn for me (well he made me help but that was only fair) so that I could have horses. He taught me how to drive. Well, that wasn’t exactly a good memory because he yelled a lot, but in retrospect I don’t blame him a bit.
There were good times. He did love me. But for some reason I had tunnel vision on the negative times.
He wasn’t all bad. He wasn’t all good. He was human, just like me.
It took hearing the same stuff coming from my kid’s mouths to make me realize that.
So tomorrow is Fathers Day. I know some dads that love their kids and their kids won’t talk to them.
I was talking to one of those kids last year in Little Rock. His dad and mom were divorced and it wasn’t pretty. His dad was my friend and was heartsick over the fact that his son wouldn’t talk to him. The kid wasn’t thinking about the zillion times his dad drove him all over the place for tournaments. The family trips that were centered on Taekwondo tournaments. How proud he was of him. The sacrifices that he made. He was only remembering the stuff he didn’t like.
I asked him to think about how he would feel if something happened to his dad. Because if then started having honest and balanced memories of his dad, he would remember the good stuff too. How would he feel then about the way he treated his dad? Did he really want to live with that guilt for the rest of his life? Forever?
I don’t know if that made an impression or not. I hope it did.
Another friend waited for surgery on his knee so that he and his boys could test for their black belts together. I could hardly talk for the tears when I awarded black belts to all of them together, and I can tell you there was not a dry eye in the audience either. It was a true demonstration of a parents love for his children. I can’t count the times we talked in my office or through emails about his concerns for both of those boys. He turned down jobs that were out of state because he didn’t want to be away from them. He was finally forced to take a job out of state and now his oldest son refuses to visit.
I didn’t have any guilt when my dad died. He knew I loved him. In the great scheme of things I was able to balance the bad with the good. I choose now to remember the good.