Thursday, June 15, 2006
. . . It seemed to take me nearly a quarter of a century to realize how much I really learned from my dad. Okay, maybe it took me a little over a quarter of a century but I get my stubbornness from him so I’ll lay the blame there. I’ve always admired him and tried to shape my life around his. There was something about him that captured me in my younger years and even now. Something that made me want to be just like my daddy more so than just that of a son wanting to mimic his father. I strived to be like him even down to pursuing the same career as if that were the magic ingredient that would make me more like him.
. . . Instead of the straight interstate path to becoming my father, I took life’s winding country road, opting for the hard way more often than not. Fatherly advice meant to help steer me back straight was temporarily encrypted as nonsense babble and absorbed into a time lock vault in my brain not to be opened until much later in my life. Turns out my way didn’t quite get me where I had planned. In fact it took me nowhere close. I fumbled around and let my lifelong dream of flying F-18’s for the same family of patriots my dad had devoted his life slip through my fingers. For several years I beat myself up, going over “what if’s” and “if I’d only’s” as if punishing myself over the possibilities that I missed would somehow give me a chance to give it another shot.
. . . I would never be a U.S. Marine and therefore, at least from my viewpoint at the time, I could never be my father. But it wasn’t what my dad did that made me want to be just like him, it was who he was. And not until recently did I realized that the Marine Corps was not what made my dad who he was. Honor, courage and commitment were values that he possessed long before pinning on the eagle, globe and anchor. Every character trait that I admire in my dad, his integrity, his love, his strength all came from a source much greater than his life in the Corps. It was his relationship and close walk with Jesus Christ that brought out the character in him that I strove to imitate. Maybe I should say that last sentence a little differently. It is his relationship and close walk with Jesus Christ that bring out the character in him that I strive to imitate. In that pursuit I believe I can prevail.
. . . I was blessed to be able to make my dad a granddad this year. I’ve learned more and grown more in the last eight months than during any other term in my life. Sometimes when Caleb is sprawled out on my chest sharing a mid-day, father-son, couch nap I wonder how my dad must have felt doing the same with me. Enjoying thoughts and dreams of what my future would hold, never putting a thought to the things I would put him through for the next two decades. I never understood how he did it. How could he take all that I’m dishing out and still be this loving and supportive? I think during that last nap, I figured it out.
. . . I am my father’s son. There are times when I say something and then look around to find where my dad’s voice came from. I guess if that’s any indication that I’m at least on the right track, I’m okay with that. Now I long for the day thirty years from now when I can experience the satisfaction of my son Caleb finally understanding what I had been telling him the first half of his life. When he and I can sit on the back porch and talk not just as father and son or as father to son but as two men with mutual respect and understanding. Almost equally as much as that, I look forward to using those sacred phrases granted only to those who have accepted the position of fatherhood, “Because I said so”, “One day you’ll understand”, “I brought you into this world, I can take you out” and my all time favorite, “there’s fish all over this lake son.” The final of course used as a rebuttal to the young fisherman’s question, “why don’t we fish over there?” every time a fish jumps across the lake.
. . . Dad, thank you for being a great example for me to follow. Thank you for always being there to pull my butt out of a crack even after pointing the crack out to me just moments before. Thank you for loving me even when I let you down. Thank you for helping me to see the things that are truly important in life. And most of all, thank you for having a love for God that shows in every aspect of your life and for instilling this importance in me.
I love you,