With Father’s Day approaching, my thoughts of course are turning to my dad. He was sort of a secondary character in my life, yet he managed to contribute a great deal without me realizing it at the time. My father was an alcoholic. He was not mean or abusive. He was a quiet drunk, and most of the time he was gone from the house so he could feed his habit without interference from us. So, growing up he never felt like a main character in my story. He was just there in the background—a source of income for our family’s survival. At least that’s the credit I gave him as a child.
Father’s Day always presented a challenge for me as an adult shopping for a card for my dad. He was not the “Hallmark” dad. He wasn’t the “Dad, you were always there for me” type, or the “We’ve shared so much over the years” type either. In fact many times I would find the best card for him under the category of “For Anyone” or “Briefly Stated”.
I often thought I should write my own cards for Dad because of our unique situation, but I never took the time. So, last year when I was sitting in the ICU waiting room while he struggled to survive his latest heart episode, I sat down and wrote this:
Dad, you weren’t there to coach my ball teams. You weren’t the athletic type. You were more the “sit in the pool, smoke cigarettes, and drink beer” type. You weren’t the loving, emotional, over-protective father either. You were more of the laid back, quiet man who rarely offered words of wisdom or—God forbid—saying “I love you”.
Still my belief that you could fix anything gave me the confidence I needed to learn skills that made me a stronger, more independent person. You knew how to bring out the beauty of an old car, a gun, or a piece of wood. I learned to see beauty and value in things that others might overlook. And looking back I see the patience that you had to accomplish so many things. You inspire me to take more time and work through obstacles that tend to frustrate me.
No, there will most likely never be a Hallmark category for who you are and all you mean to me. You may not have been Hallmark perfection, but you were God’s perfect gift for me. I am who I am not just because of your contributions, but for all of your weaknesses as well.
I never gave this message to my father. He passed away in April of 2013. I just told him I loved him every night before we left him.
So, to all you fathers out there…don’t fret too much that you may be a secondary character in your child’s life. Without you their book just wouldn’t be what it is. Where there is love there is unconditional acceptance.