Fathers come in all shapes and sizes, temperaments and talents. On the whole, I'd daresay they are a thankless lot -- often underappreciated, largely misunderstood -- an entire populace of men rarely acknowledged for the many and varied ways in which they contribute as parents. Mothers, deservedly or not, garner the lion's share of recognition when it comes to the important business of raising a family. But Father's Day, with its prominently marketed golf wares, grilling must-haves and sea of manly fragrances, forces us to shift our collective sentiment and pay homage to dear, old Dad.
And as I wander the aisles in search of the perfect greeting card for my father -- one that I believe captures the essence of our relationship, keys on our shared allegiance to witticism and adequately gives thanks for the sacrifices he's made and the wisdom he's imparted, I find myself settling for that which falls disappointingly short. Hallmark, it seems, hasn't stumbled upon the right assemblage of words just yet. Somehow their writers have missed the mark, along with all the other clever wordsmiths who've failed to deliver the sort of message my father needs to receive -- the one that perhaps all fathers need to receive. So thank you, Dad, for so many things...
... for encouraging me to forge my own path instead of assuming that the paths of others would necessarily be right for me... for letting me climb to the tops of trees and to skateboard with wild abandon... for ferrying me to the ER when necessary.
... for teaching me how to throw a fastball, wield a mean golf club and sink a jump shot on command... for being my biggest advocate (even still) and for believing in me even before I believed in myself.
... for being oh-so-generous with your time... for listening intently to my wishes and worries... for considering me a worthy companion as we jogged over the back roads of town, watched doubleheaders into the wee hours and sat in scratchy lawn chairs together, completely mesmerized by the thunderstorms that rolled across the skies in the midst of July's unbearable heat, summer after endless summer.
... for letting me date boys with mustaches and muscle cars... for traipsing around the kitchen in your underwear late at night, when said boys needed reminding that it was time to go home (an infinitely mortifying experience then, but absolutely hilarious now)... for walking me down the aisle -- twice -- and never once saying I told you so.
... for introducing me to the concept of balancing a checkbook, as well as finding balance in my life... for teaching me to accept failure when it comes to call and to learn from my missteps... to appreciate having grandparents, a roof overhead and acres of woods all around.
... for tolerating my teenage years (Oy!), for trusting me with your beloved cars even though the voices inside your head must have screamed, "Noooo!" and for resisting the overwhelming desire to share with my High School Yearbook Committee that hideous photo of me with the mumps. For that alone, I love you dearly.
... for navigating so many road trips -- to distant airports, to a good number of college campuses I considered calling home, to my very first job interview in the city. Never mind that we got horribly lost in the process; but getting a glimpse of the White House at rush hour surely was grand.
... for inspiring me to be a responsible individual, to work hard and to strive to do good in this world... for illustrating the power of forgiveness, the refuge of one's church and the necessary nature of grieving our losses... for reminding me that things usually work out in the end -- even when they look entirely hopeless at the start.
... for underscoring the importance of finding time for one's children, time for one's marriage and time for oneself... for helping me recognize the inherent value of ice cream sundaes, the versatility of duct tape and the irreplaceable nature of a good friend.
... for loving your grandchildren with as much ferocity as you loved me, for implanting within me the seeds of faith and for showing me the beauty of marrying one's best friend.