Make Time for Dad
“Hey, Dad, you wanna have a catch?”
Your heart has to be encased in Fort Knox-levels of concrete not to choke up when Ray asks his dad to toss the baseball. I was 14 years old when Field of Dreams came out and I can still remember that overwhelming sense of connection to my dad as we sat in the theater. Corny? Probably. But it’s still our favorite movie.
There’s a rugged honesty in a father-son relationship. When you’re a kid, you look up to your dad—not because he’s so much taller than you—but because he fills so many roles in your life. He’s the protector of the family, provider, and final arbitrator of all decisions. And if you’re lucky like me, he’s the guy who pushes you to ride your bike further, climb the tree higher, or jump off the high dive.
When I was a kid, I thought my father was a genius. Not only did he know how to rebuild a lawnmower or work a grill, but he also seemed like the only one who could make Mom laugh. Dad got up before everyone, worked all day, and still made time at the end of the day to roughhouse in the backyard. It’s not until you’re older you realize your old man wasn’t a sock-and-sandal-wearing savant—he was just faking it until he made it. Books stores are filled with parenting advice, but the good ones don’t need to crack a book to be a great dad.
My father was 27 when I was born. I remember vividly at 27 I wasn’t equipped to get a car loan, much less raise a kid. But somehow, he did it with patience, generosity, and forgiveness. And maybe that was the secret to his success. Even when he was at his wit’s end with all the pressures of life, he somehow had the wherewithal to keep his cool.
If that doesn’t make a great dad, I don’t know what does.
Wait Your Turn
There’s an old adage: “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.” We’re born impatient. We don’t have the strength to take care of ourselves as infants. It’s why babies cry. They’re asking for food, warmth, and affection in the only language they know. As we get older, the innocence of infancy slowly fades as we learn to talk and ask for what we want.
This is when the wheat is separated from the chaff.
As a hyperactive kid, my dad probably had to buy a new sportscoat with the amount of tugging I did on his jacket. If it wasn’t a ride to soccer practice or pitching in at Boy Scouts, it was helping with my homework—my dad could have joined a circus with the amount of juggling he did. Only recently have I discovered the bottomless amount of patience he possessed.
Opening Up the Wallet
Being generous isn’t just a couple of bucks being tucked into your shirt pocket as you’re heading out the door. Generosity is a multi-faceted trait. And my father was generous to a fault. Not only was he the guy picking up tabs from dinners and making donations to local charities, he was also the first to volunteer for anything—and I do mean anything.
Need help moving? Call my pop. Car needs a jump? My dad will be there in a jiff. Observing my father, I learned generosity means always being willing and available to help out. Best of all, he did it with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. There’s absolutely nothing worse than somebody who acts put out when helping someone else. Attitude matters. And my dad had a great one.
My dad is whip smart. He’s the kind of guy who can run the table in a game of Trivial Pursuit or make you feel foolish watching Jeopardy. And while he’s got a photographic memory, he’s decent enough to forget things. Case in point: my father had a commemorative mug when the Oakland A’s won the World Series in 1974.
Rollie Fingers was the World Series MVP that year. With his handlebar mustache twisted like a demon, the hard-throwing closer was nothing short of iconic. My dad thought so—that’s why he had Fingers sign the mug. I, a snot-nosed kid not knowing the mug’s significance, though it would be perfect for eating cereal. When my dad discovered me he plopped down in front of the TV with his beloved mug, the shock for both of us was enough for me to drop the mug on to the floor.
He must have been furious. And while I got a talking to, he let it slide. He only brought it up to me when I asked him recently about a time he blew his top at me. The fact that we remember the incident differently is proof the guy had a perfectly select memory.
The Back Nine
The ultimate lesson I learned from my dad is to pay it forward. Be a good guy, take time to help others, and try not to be a jerk. To make sure I can roll up my sleeves and set the same example for the younger guys in my life, I take a joint-nurturing glucosamine supplement. I need to take care of those spots where the bones meet—walking in my dad’s footsteps means I’ve got huge shoes to fill.*
This Father’s Day, make sure to recognize the influential men in your life. The guys who go above and beyond, take it on the chin, and keep on going to take care of the ones they love.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.