It’s Father’s Day, so it is appropriate a day as any to do something I don’t do often enough–to thank you, Dad. Though saying “thank you” through a blog may seem like a little odd, I’m doing it for a reason. Almost every day, someone thanks me for helping them with something, and thank me for being who I am. And I tell them that it is thanks to you and Mom that I am that person. I want them to see what mean when I say that. I want everyone to witness what an amazing man you are. So here goes.
Dad. Father. Scoutmaster. Head Usher. Repairman. Teacher. Inspiration. You’ve been a lot of things to me throughout my thirty years of life, and every single one of them has contributed to who I am today. I say this from the bottom of my heart: Thank you. And I have to throw an apology in here, because I don’t think I say that nearly often enough, so I’m sorry for that. That’s something I am working on changing.
I know we’ve not always gotten along, and sometimes we’re polar opposites, but as I’ve grown and matured (again, thanks to you and Mom), I’ve learned that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think the fact that we have different perspectives is one of the many things that has allowed me to grow further. You’ve always been there to push me just a little harder, to go just one step further, to try just one more time, and I know in the past I’ve acted like I didn’t appreciate it, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The truth is that your positive influence built me up into someone I like to think you can be proud of.
Let me give you an example.
When I was a young teenager, I was very active in Boy Scouts, and this was in no small part thanks to your encouragement. Unfortunately, as I got a little older, being involved in Scouts became uncool; it took up too much of my precious time; it was a responsibility I had never asked for. And I began to resent it. I earned my Life Scout rank (for those unfamiliar with Boy Scouts, this is the step before becoming an Eagle Scout), and I decided that enough was enough. I was out. I wanted to focus on things I enjoyed doing instead of being the uncool kid in Scouts.
You didn’t let me. And if we’re being totally honest, at that point, I did not like you one bit. To my rebellious teen mind, you were the Man, forcing me to do something I didn’t want to do. At that time, I couldn’t see your motivation–it wasn’t that you wanted me to be like you (as you are also an Eagle Scout). I couldn’t see that you pushed me forward because of the love you bear for me. You bargained and argued and threatened until you succeeded–at the age of sixteen, I became a third-generation Eagle Scout. Soon after, both of my younger brothers followed suit.
Now, when I look back on those times, I can see something that took me a very long time to learn: You were right.
I’ll say that again, for the record: You were right to push me.
You saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself at that time–a future. I was too young to see that far forward, but you knew better, and you focused me. And now I have a set of skills that are immeasurably useful in every aspect of my life. And becoming an Eagle Scout is just one example of the wonderful ways you’ve helped me grow.
I think it’s amazingly ironic that one of your favourite things to do in life is gardening. It’s something that I’ve always been a bit envious of, because I don’t have your natural talent for growing green things, but I’ve come to enjoy it as you’ve taught me. You come home every day after work, and one of the first things you do is water your plants. And when you spend hours in the garden, making sure your vegetables and flowers and trees are growing healthily.
And yet, your greatest crop was–is–the three amazing sons you’ve fed, watered, and cultivated. You made sure that grew strong in the light, that we always had everything we needed, and you helped protect us from the weeds that life throws at us. Most importantly, once we were able to grow on our own, you let us grow unaided.
But you are still there, ever the gardener, ready to help your sons’ growth in whatever what you can. As Ashley and I talk and plan our future, it is my greatest hope that I am able to channel everything you’ve taught me in teaching my own children.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad, from a grateful son. I love you.