Happy Father's Day
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for” -John A. Shedd
Oddly enough, my most pivotal memories of us are simple conversations that meant nothing at the time, but mean everything today. The conversations that, unbeknownst to you (and definitely to me), triggered a shift in mindset or attitude. The conversations that have stuck around in my memory after all of these years. The conversations that ended with a variation of “you’ll understand one day.”
One such conversation happened in your car, around what feels like an eternity ago to me — but probably feels like last month to you — as I listened to you describe a show called “The Twilight Zone” that you watched as a kid. As you went on recounting the scenes in one particular episode, my interest rose. Aliens? Meteors? Armageddon? I was hooked. Finally, my curiosity burst free: “Is it based on a true story?” I asked. Your answer has stuck with me since. Instead of simply saying no and moved on, you launched into a lesson about the importance of critical thinking. It quickly made sense that if we were discussing a show about the end of the world, it couldn’t be based on a true story — a shift in mindset that arose from a simple conversation.
Another time, I remember asking, “Dad, if I’m homeless when I grow up, will you let me live with you?” Much to my surprise, you answered no — quickly followed by “but you don’t have to worry about that.” I’m not sure why I remember that exchange, but I do. However, what’s crystal clear to me now is the motivation behind your answer. Instead of teaching me that failure was an option — that I don’t need to try — you instilled in me the lesson of self-reliance. While today I know I could crash on your couch whenever I need to, that’s not what I needed to hear at the time. I didn’t recognize that then, but you did. While your answer may not have been what I wanted to hear, it’s what you knew was necessary.
Much like your incessant warnings, and despite my corresponding doubt, that the “one day” when I would understand your lessons would arrive sooner rather than later, every morning I awake to discover that today is the “one day” I heard so much about. Luckily, you’ve equipped me with the tools necessary to thrive.
All of this is to say that I am who I am today largely because of the small conversations we had many years ago. Perhaps it’s impossible for any one memory to sum up all of our talks. However, my memories of the following come close: you reminding me that you’re not here to “be my friend,” but you’re here to be my father. At the time, I couldn’t see why you can’t be both — but now I do. A friend won’t always be genuinely happy for us when we succeed; a father will. A friend won’t always correct us when we’re wrong; a father will. And a friend won’t always love us after we mess up; a father will. And you’ve proven this to be true time and time again. Love you and happy Father’s Day,