On December 22nd 1994 I stopped by my dad’s house to pick up my infant daughter and say hello. He was retired at the time and kind enough to help with the daycare. It was a brief but sweet conversation about silly things fathers and sons talk about. As I turned to go I said, “I’ll see you on Christmas day dad” and he said, “No, you’ll see me Christmas Eve at church.” My dad sang in the choir and we always went to the Christmas Eve vigil at St. Joseph’s in Troy. I smiled because he was right as usual. With my daughter in one arm and a diaper bag in the other I managed a feeble wave goodbye. How could I know it was the last time I’d ever speak to him.
I did see my father on Christmas Eve in church but it was at his funeral. A few hours after I said goodbye to him that ordinary December day two days prior he died in his sleep. Totally unexpected. Life is cruel that way sometimes.
Now that I’m a father with three kids of my own I always tell them the same thing about Father’s Day gifts. I am happy with a pair of socks and a big bag of M&M’s. You see TV commercials pushing power tools and golf clubs for Father’s Day gifts but the truth is all dad’s ever really want is to see their kids happy and healthy. That is our gift. Moms are the same way.
So what do I want for Father’s Day this year? I want my children and yours to be OK. I want them to slow down in the car and stopped texting so much. I want them to chase their dreams and work hard at school but also take time to stare at the clouds and daydream too. I want them to turn on the news and not see stories like Orlando. I know that’s not possible but maybe we could give them a week or two without such horror on the evening news. I want them to love their neighbors and forgive those who cross them when possible. There’s so much power in forgiveness.
Mostly I want people to stop arguing with family over stupid things, things that won’t matter a year from now. I had a great relationship with my father so as hard as it was to lose him at least I could close my eyes at night knowing there was only love there. I can’t imagine if that last conversation was an argument over something silly. I’m so thankful our last moment together was one spent smiling.
Life is short and you never know when that next conversation or wave goodbye is the last. So what should you get dad this year? Just call him to say you are OK because that’s all he really needs to make Sunday special. Oh and a bag of M&M’s certainly wouldn’t hurt.