(i wrote a lot about my relationship with my father last year around father’s day. it was worth reading again for me. it might be for you, too. you can check them out here , here , and here. )
it’s kind of funny. i’ve never been able to wrap my head around the idea that father’s day was about me. from the time my sons were born…all the way up to today, some thirty years later, father’s day has always been about my dad.
it was his day. even back when wanda and my boys made a big deal about the day for me, my heart was always with him. as i grew older and moved father away and got wrapped up in my own life, it got harder and harder to spend time with him on his day. but it was always where i wanted to be. it was where i knew i needed to be. for me… not for him.
like i said, it was his day.
as i sit here alone with my thoughts tonight, my memories of my dad are pretty clear. he passed away eleven years ago. i miss him.
he never got to see my life in texas. he never got to see and experience most of the amazing things his grandsons did in their lives. he was an athlete and a real sports fan. he would have loved to see them play ball. he would have been proud of them.
when i was young, he was really active in our church home. he also knew some of the darker sides of church life and leadership. i’m pretty sure he wasn’t too thrilled that i became a youth minister back in my twenties! i’m more than sure would have rolled his eyes when he found out i became a preacher over the past few years! but he still would have been proud of me.
when i rolled into my adult years, my relationship with my dad changed. he changed some. i changed quite a bit. it’s not surprising that our interaction went through some alterations. my dad could always small-talk. we could talk sports. we could talk about his job. we could talk about projects around the house. we even occasionally talked about church…in a generic, benign kind of way.
along the way, i had learned to value deep friendship…challenging, personal conversation…meaningful interactions about real life and death issues of faith and convictions. for whatever his reasons, though, that was not something my dad valued. not with me. not with anyone.
it wasn’t until he was on his death bed that he opened up to me and talked about things on a deeper level. in the final nine months of his life, i think i learned more about him than i got to know over the course of my whole life with him. i will forever be grateful for that short time.
…and i will always carry a particular kind of sadness with me, also.
i wish i would have known him better. i think there was way more inside of him than he ever let show. maybe that’s one of the reasons i work so hard at being transparent. i wish i would have been able to learn more from him. i should have asked him more questions and listened more carefully to what he was trying to say.
i’ve always had such admiration and respect for dads who have close, deep, transparent relationships with their “adult” sons. i never really had that with my dad. he didn’t have it to give. he also didn’t know what he was missing.
it wasn’t until i grew up that i knew what i was missing.
so here’s my challenge to all of you sons and daughters…whether you are twenty or fifty or anywhere in-between: as long as he’s still breathing, it’s never too late to find out what makes your dad tick. it’s not too late to have some heart-to-hearts. even if that’s never been part of your M-O.
your dad doesn’t need your gifts on father’s day. he needs you. and you probably need more of him, also.
so another year has come and gone since last june. happy father’s day, dad. i wish you were still here so i could tell you personally.
(i know there are many father/child relationships that are toxic and dangerous. my words here might not apply in any healthy way at all. they may even sound cruel and heartless. if this is true for you, i am sincerely sorry for any pain i have stirred up. honest. may the god of compassion continue to bring healing to your soul…)