Fathers Day. Much like any other holiday here in the U.S. it's treated as a day for BBQ's, drinking, and sporting events. Cards are exchanged, and "I love you" is uttered across the land. It's a day that's generally looked upon as saying, "thanks for being my dad."
Dad. It's a title. A title earned. Anyone can donate a sperm, and claim they are a father. But that doesn't make it so. Dad's are much more than just a piece of DNA. They are the ones that we look up to as the king of the family. Don't believe me? Ask any adopted or foster child who has calls someone dad, who isn't of their blood. A title earned. Ask the child with a step-dad, whose father ignores them, treats them as property, or has completely abandoned them. A title earned.
We change their diaper's when needed, only to get showered in pee. We kiss their knees when they fall. We hug them as they panic at a little blood from their first loose tooth. We teach them how to swim, and play games with them. We look in on our children, even as teenagers to make sure they're sleeping okay. We spend Christmas Eve with our wives, driving around to find a store for their first period. We praise them when they do well in school, and encourage them to do better when they don't do so well. We tell them stories of honor and glory from our time in service.
We teach them about respect,and to say ma'am and sir. We teach them how to shoot. We teach them old ways of doing math. We teach them about where our families come from. We teach them how to care for animals. We teach them about pride, and when it can be foolish.
As a dad, we worry that we haven't done enough. We worry that we haven't prepared them, even when they've shown we have. We worry that they'll make the same mistakes we have. We worry that they'll get hurt. We worry that they'll resent us for being too stern sometimes. We worry that they'll fail, and not want to try again. We worry about them having heartbreak. We worry that they'll forget who they are in this mixed up, crazy world.
We take pride when they learn a new trade. Pride when they take interest in something new. There's pride when they excel, and pride when they are humble. We take pride when they overcome a fear. Pride when they stand up for someone who can't stand up for themselves.
Sometimes things go just as planned. Other times close, but not quite. Then there are times that everything goes wrong, but right at the same time. And there are days when you fall flat.
While this is supposed to be a day we thank our fathers, it's a bitter sweet day for me. To my step-dad Elbert. You came along late in my life, but thank you none the less. You do a lot with little acknowledgement, and are appreciated more than you know. To my dad David, you made your mistakes like anyone else. But under it all you were a good person, and I miss you. Our time together here on earth was cut too short. I love you both.
And thank you to my kids. Without you I wouldn't be a dad, as stressed out, or as whole as I am today. I love you all.