My Dad can beat up your Dad.
Today is Father’s Day and I am reflecting on my one true example of fatherhood and, I can tell you, he’s got your Dad beat by a mile. Okay, so he only took me to White Sox games in the 60’s when they were awful instead of Cubs games as I was growing up on the south side of Chicago. And I never remember them winning. Not once. But I complained long enough that he took me to the north side one time to visit Wrigley Field when Fergie Jenkins was pitching.
And yes, the Cubbies won. 4-2. See? It made an impact on me. Dad did that.
Sure, it’s true that he worked for the phone company and they kept transferring him in the middle of the school year, making it hard to make new friends and easier as time went by to say bye to old friends. So what if I learned over time not to get too close to people. I did, in fact, learn to make friends quickly and my penchant for cave-dwelling has turned me on to spending long hours shut away with God (a ‘plus’ in ministry) and learning though other friends may come and go, He will never leave me nor forsake me.
Yeah, my stinking memory still holds onto the ONE time he looked so disappointed in me after a little league game where I had muffed a pop fly and caused us to lose a big game, amid all the other times he praised me in all things big and small and taught me the art of encouragement. Sorry, Dad. I did get over that a long time ago, and the fact of the matter is, I was kind of a goof at baseball. Thanks for all those years of leaving work early to pick me up from basketball practice and for rarely missing any of my games. You rock.
I say again, my Dad can beat up your Dad.
He’s a study in meekness and gentleness. He’s one of the kindest men you will ever meet. Many have been the times I’ve heard it said of my Dad that “he’s so cute.” Yeah, he kinda is. He’s just a short man but he stands head and shoulders above most. He’s also the youngest looking 77 year old you’ll ever know. And he doesn’t drive like an old man, which is always nice. ‘Tis true he has more hair than I do and in MUCH better shape but the one thing about my Dad that I can honestly say I have never known him to do is make fun of anyone. You won’t hear put-downs from his mouth. He builds up. He doesn’t tear down. And I have never, ever felt degraded by him.
Thanks, Dad. You rock.
And another thing. This man I am talking about? This man who is my Dad? Well sir, I’ve never seen a man love a woman like he loved my Mom. Throughout their almost fifty years together, right up to her passing from a three-month battle with cancer, he put her first every time. Not before God, mind you, but her needs always came before his own. The man’s a saint, I tell you.
There’s a whole litany of things I could say to honor my Dad but all of them would fall way short of the one thing that has stood out in my memory above all others. Growing up in my house, you always knew where Dad would be before the sun rose on his day: at the breakfast table with an open Bible and bowed head. His life has always been a worship to His Lord. And because of his devotion, his life has the mark of integrity on it. Before there was PromiseKeepers, he was the mold for what a promise-keeper should look like. I never knew him to leer at another woman or cheat God with the tithe or shirk his work responsibilities. They don’t make ’em like Dad anymore.
My Dad can beat the tar out of yours.
Dad was a great provider, a committed husband, a kind father and he showed me it’s never out of place for a grown man to cry, indeed it is quite masculine—all these things, yes, but there will never be a more bold statement over his life than that sweet head bowed in a fixed amen to the Holy Book that shapes every moment of his life.
All which has me asking: How?
He didn’t grow up in a Christian home. He never received much in the way of love from his Dad or stepmom, and yet he filled my sisters’ and my life with it in abundance. Man, it just leaves me shaking my head. Here’s to you, Dad, with love. Thank you for being Jesus to me with skin on.
Sylvester Stallone still has one more Rocky to write. You are the Rocky Balboa of Dads.