With another Father’s Day in the books (my 27th as a “guest of honor,” and the 22nd since losing my own dad, leaving me a Father’s day “orphan”), I decided to briefly reflect on what yesterday, and generally being a father, means to me.
In short, I’m honored and grateful to be a parent. I’ve never thought I merited “World’s Greatest Dad” status – though at one time I did receive a mug proclaiming just such an accolade – because I’m not. I’m an OK dad, with flashes of “really good.” But world’s greatest? Not even close. Neither was my father, but I never held that against him, or even thought he owed me that. He was a good man, someone from whom I learned a lot but not during long kitchen table talks, in hunting tree stands or on golf courses. I learned things by observing him as he lived his life. Some of the things I learned by his example; others as things I wanted to avoid.
And as my own father probably felt when he was alive, as I look back I see hundreds or thousands of things I could or should have done differently to be a better parent. But now, that’s all water under the bridge, and all I can do is put a stake in the ground and move forward, to be the best person I can to my kids from this day forward.
One year, when I was a kid, I gave my dad a “World’s Greatest Dad” statue. At six or seven years old, I picked it out and bought it with my own money. When I gave it to him, I remember he smiled, and I’m guessing he felt the same way I did when I received my mug so many years ago. “Thanks kid. I truly appreciate this. I’m just not sure I deserve it.”
I love my family, Joan and the kids, and when Father’s Day rolls around (not unlike the odd Tuesday, rainy Saturday or any other day of the year that’s not Father’s Day), I’m reminded not that I’m the greatest dad in the world (though the kids and Joan do force that opinion upon me often); rather, I’m the luckiest dad in the world, something else I’m not sure I deserve, but like free money or a couple extra fries at the bottom of the McDonald’s bag, I won’t turn it away when it’s offered.
My family is the best. That’s a fact, and I'll fight you to the death defending that comment. For my money, Joan, Kate and Will are three people I’d stack up against anyone. They’re the people I want to laugh with, cry with, go to battle with, hang out with, problem solve with, debate with, and celebrate with.
Without Joan, I wouldn’t be a father to these two bright, beautiful, kind, funny and talented kids (though they’re anything but kids nowadays). And without Kate and Will, I wouldn’t have a snowball's chance in hell to be nominated World Greatest Dad. But that’s truly the way they made me feel yesterday, and frankly, the way they make me feel every time I see them or talk to them.
And that’s why this Father’s Day, and for all those that lie ahead, I’m staking claim to the title of World’s Luckiest Dad, and I’m also going to work at getting closer and closer (though I fear it’s unattainable) to the title of World’s Greatest Dad as well. Because they deserve that and so much more.
As for my dad, I still miss him, but not necessarily because I don’t get to spend time with him on Father’s Day or because he was the World's Greatest Dad. I just … well, miss him. And I hope he knew how I felt about him while he was with us, like my kids have done so well and so often all these years.
To my family, I simply say, thank you.
© 2022 David R. Haznaw