“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” This statement was made by Billy Graham. I don’t know when, and I don’t know the context in which it was said, but what I do know is that these words are absolutely true.
Today is Father’s Day. A day we celebrate dads. I have had some interesting conversations today with many different dad ‘types.” With each conversation, each text and each statement, one truth rang loud and clear: Dad’s LOVE their children. So often, dad’s do not get the recognition they have earned. I cannot speak from experience but rather from my own observations and encounters with men around me. I am not a dad. I have a dad. I have an amazing dad. A dad who works hard, has fun, gives instruction and guidance, and loves us unconditionally. He is GREAT and I love him beyond words.
As today progressed, I watched social media messages pop up all over the place with words of thanks and encouragement, love, and appreciation and photos of smiling dads with kids of all ages. What a wonderful thing social media can be at times! We can reach out and express ourselves in ways I would never have imagined as a child.
I made mention of some conversations that came my way today with different dads. In most of the conversations, there was a message of fun times with kids and cute gifts and pictures drawn by little ones, loving phone calls from older children living far away, and dinners together with local offspring.
Three conversations made an impact on me today.
The first was with a dad who is home on Father’s Day for the first time in 8 years. His son was 2 when he was sent overseas, and though he has had a few visits home, he had not had opportunity to celebrate this day with his children in his arms. Today he woke up to three bouncing children serenading him with songs and covering him with hand drawn pictures, crafts and cards as his wife brought in breakfast in bed. This dad expressed how foreign things felt and how because of his absence he hadn’t fully grasped how much his kids missed him and love him. Telephone calls and Skype are easily interrupted, but this morning he spent hours surrounded by his children hugging and kissing them while laughter and song filled the air. His joy was shown in his words, “I have never felt so loved and content.”
In another conversation, I spoke with a father who loves his children and has done so much to provide for them, show them love and give them security even in the two home situation they are in. He was not able to see his children today because it was not ‘his weekend’. This genuinely hurt my heart. It is Father’s Day and a court document separated him from his children. His response struck me very deeply. His words in response to my statement that it was sad they were not with him were, “I know my kids love me by the way they treat me when they are with me. And my kids know I love them by the way I treat them. That is all that is important, not some man made holiday.” I quite literally sat back in my chair when I read these words and thought of the sacrifices that so many men make and the reality of the reason. It isn’t just because they are men and that is what is expected. It is because men love their children with ferocity and commitment. Dads love their children with pride and joy; dads love their children deeply. Father’s Day for this dad is every day that he is with his children. Father’s Day is found in the joy of togetherness and love.
The conversation that weighs the most on my heart and brings about the most emotion within me was a conversation with a dad who will never again feel the hugs and kisses of his little ones. He will never again be able to reach down and tussle his sons hair or hold his daughter’s hand as they walk along the street. He will never hear their laughter or hold them and comfort them while they cry. He will never hear the words “I love you daddy” from their mouths again. They are gone. But his love for them is as strong and as true as it ever was. This father forever carries his small children in his heart and the memory of their tiny voices echo in his ears. The sadness that today brings is a sadness felt every day, his empty arms a reminder of the love they once held. But his heart is not bitter. His thoughts are not selfish. His love has not turned to anger. His focus today as we talked was on the blessing of these children he held for less than a decade. His words circled around their personalities, their achievements, and the things they might have been. The love this dad has for his children, though they are gone, is as strong as ever. He is living his life, an excellent father even though his tiny treasures are not here to share it with him. His love runs deep and true.
This is what Father’s Day is about. It is about honoring those who have opened their hearts and their lives, Father’s Day is about honoring those men who love their children, whether they are by blood or by choice. Father’s Day is a day when dad’s get recognized for all they are and all they do every day of the year.
Thank you to all the dads. You are appreciated. Every. Single. Day.