First of all, thank you for being present. I thought it was normal to have a loving dad at home all the time. I have since learned that I was likely in the minority. Because of my assumption, I overlooked the value of having you involved in my life. I wish I had paid more attention at times. I wish I had asked more questions. I wish I hadn’t slept so much in the passenger seat of your truck while we traveled up and down I-75. Thankfully, your presence in my life is not a matter of past-tense. I am grateful to have you just a phone call or short drive away.
Thanks for not living vicariously through us kids. I’ve seen so many dads put an incredible amount of pressure on their children to perform or excel at certain activities. You never did that. You always let us have the freedom to choose what activities, hobbies, interests, and sports we wanted to pursue. When I didn’t make the basketball team in middle school you weren’t disappointed. In fact, you wrote me a letter of encouragement (didn’t think I’d remember that, did you?). When I wanted to be a teenager instead of being at the racetrack on a given weekend, you were fine with that. Thank you.
Thank you for practicing what you preached. I vividly remember watching an episode of “Dirty Jobs” one night. The job at hand was cleaning out port-a-potties. One of us boys made a comment about how we’d never do that job and I remember you replying with something along the lines of, “You’ll do whatever you have to do to provide for your family.” Fast-forward several years and you lived out those words. The economy turned south, business slowed down, and you picked up a second job to provide for your family. That spoke volumes to your sons who were learning what it meant to be men.
Thanks for making us work. Once we were old enough to enter the workforce we didn’t spend summers sleeping in and playing video games. We were up at 7:58am for work at 8am (side note: thanks for living so close to the shop). Even before that you had us mowing the yard, washing trucks, and so on. You taught us that work is a good thing. Also, thanks for not bringing work home. I am still amazed at your ability to leave the stress and weight of owning a business in your office instead of bringing it to our living room.
This might sound odd, but thanks for crying. You showed us that real men can and do cry. I’ve seen your eyes fill with tears of sadness and sorrow at the death of a loved one. I’ve watched you choke back tears of gratitude as the family gathered for Thanksgiving dinner. I recall hearing your voice waver as you apologized to us for the time a campaign took up much of your family time. And I’ve seen tears of joy as you held your grandchildren for the first time. Tears are powerful. Thanks for not holding them back.
I could go on and on and thank you for many more things—but instead I want to finish with the words of the great Urban philosopher (first name, Keith) who sang the words that I think every father wants to hear:
I only hope when I have my own family
that everyday I see
a little more of my father in me.
I love you, Dad.