Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Father's Day reflections - 6-24-09 Editor's Column

Over the weekend I’m sure many of us either made phone calls, sent an e-card or made our way over to our fathers’ homes for a Father’s Day honor.

In the same regard, I’m also sure many of us spent a varying amount of time trying to find that perfect gift or card for dear old dad so that we can try and show him with something he might like that we are still thinking about him and still enjoy his company.

My father, for example, is an avid motorcycle enthusiast. He goes on weekly rides with his friends and fellow bikers, takes day trips with my mother and sometimes tries to make those crazy runs that I always imagine large groups of riders going on (he was a participant in the recent Ironbutt ride that was the subject of an early-May article).

Therefore, my brother felt it would be appropriate to get him a motorcycle lift for when his two-wheeled love needs a check-up.

With the capabilities of using it with an air compressor for effortless lifting and the ability for it to lift at least 1,500 pounds, it seems that for a motorcycle lift, it is everything that he needs.

However, as I think of that last line and how my brother and I gave him something he needs, I can’t help but think about how small a motorcycle lift is for my father in comparison with the things that he has given me over the years - just like many fathers do for their children over the course of a lifetime (or at least until we move out).

When I recall my childhood and what my brother and I had and what my family had, I can’t for a moment say that I went without something that I needed. This was a testament to the hours that my parents both worked to make sure my brother and I were both taken care of.

But what about dad, you ask? Well, I recall many nights that, while my brother and I were inside sleeping or watching television, he was working on someone’s car, many times until midnight or 1 a.m. so that we could afford to go on a trip together.

I remember weeks when more often than not, he could be found working to get one of us kids a birthday gift that we had been wanting or to take care of something that needed to be done to the house that sheltered us.

We didn’t necessarily need to have the trips to places like Disney World or to different places out west to camp. We didn’t need to have a brand new bicycle or a brand new pair of name-brand jeans that were the rage at the time when our other clothes worked just fine, but he would work for those things anyway.

Even into college, my father worked to help me in my education, co-signing with me on my educational loans.

And then there are the things that money can’t buy, like life experiences and an understanding of what respect is.

Though at the time I hated them with a passion, those hours we spent splitting wood or working outside showed me what it’s like to work and earn my keep instead of having it simply handed to me.

Similarly, all the tough love that some might balk at has provided me with insight that I plan to use when I have children of my own some day. It’s easy to give in and to say “yes,” but to say “no” and to stand by those words resonates so much more, especially when you can help your children understand why.

I won’t ever be able to put into words just how grateful I am for the things I have learned from my dad, because words don’t do justice to the lessons of life - they only provide a window’s worth of perspective.

I hope that with all the fathers out there, that those of you who have a good relationship with yours can appreciate the things that your fathers did for you, as well as the things that they didn’t do for you, because they knew when to say “no.”

Though it’s belated, happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there.

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