Today is Father’s Day. It’s a day traditionally reserved to commemorate those that made a significant impact and helped shape who we are, who we will be and the legacy we’ll leave behind after we’re gone. Fathers come in many shapes, sizes and forms. Some are biological, some are surrogate and others are unintended. I know Fathers that have the dual role of also being a Mother and the reverse is also true. There are Fathers who parent with an iron hand, some who parent with a more liberal one and some who choose to not parent at all. Regardless of their contributions, Fathers leave indelible marks on every man, woman and child you have or will ever meet. The story of your Father is a powerful one. How you choose to read it and translate it into your own is what separates coaches from spectators sitting in the stands. Father’s Day isn’t an obligatory recognition. It’s an ovation of all of those things that our Fathers taught us to love and cherish. Father’s Day is an homage to those special people in our lives that are reflected in the people, places and things that we hold most dear.
I was blessed with four children. Three of them are biological, while one of them came into my life as a one year-old fireball whose curiosity of the world around her was a question I wanted to spend the rest of my life answering. See, fatherhood isn’t always about your DNA. My daughter was never my “step-daughter”, my “adopted daughter” or “just Maya” – she was, is and forever will be my daughter. I love all of my children equally and like to think I played at least a small hand in how brilliant and diverse they are. Sure, the awesome and formidable role of being a Father incurs alot of sacrifices and sweat equity. It’s by far not a cake walk, but if you do it right, the rewards far outweigh the efforts. As someone who has spent the better part of his life in the educational system, I can confidently tell you that I learned more being a Father than from any and all textbooks that passed through my hands – and believe me there were many. For me, it all started in the spring of 1963 when my own Father welcomed me into the world. He was my coach, my mentor, my disciplinarian and my greatest friend. When I look down at my hands typing, I see my father’s hands. When I repair a leaky faucet or a flickering lamp, I see my father doing the same thing as I stood by his side, waist-high, holding a flashlight and passing him a wrench or screwdriver. These memories make me wonder about what other aspects of my father: his character, his intelligence, his kindness, humor and artistic talent are also part of me.
One of the biggest things I learned from my Father is that I may not be able to give my kids everything they want but I give them what they need: love, time, and attention. You can’t buy those things. There is an old saying that says a father is a guy who has photos in his wallet where his money used to be. Truth is, being a Father is so much more than an accumulation of wealth and assets. The person that welcomes the mantle of fatherhood around them is really the richest being in the world because the currency of sons and daughters, both literally and figuratively, is priceless. Today is more than a token gift or family get-together. No, today is an ovation for all “Fathers” past, present and future.