That's About It
“Well, that’s about it,” I said to my dad at the end of one of our regular Saturday morning conversations. The conversation was nothing special. We talked about our respective goings on and he and mom’s upcoming visit that was less than a week away. Frankly, I was a little distracted as I was mentally going through my list of things to accomplish during the precious two days that lie between Friday and Monday. Besides, I was going to spend some concentrated time with Dad during the next two-day respite from the work week.
Three hours later I was on the phone with another man who was telling me, “He’s gone…he’s gone.” Just like that – with no warning, no indication, no time to prepare – he was gone.
Dad left this world in the same way he inhabited it: unassuming, direct, and without any fuss. When the end suddenly came, dad was out at the ranch “checking on things” like he always did. He was where he wanted to be and doing what he wanted to do, and he had nothing left to prove or accomplish. That is probably the best ending any of us can hope for. It is terrible for those who are left behind, but it is wonderful for him.
And that wonder – that hope – is what plants a seed of joy amidst the grief and the sadness. Watering that seed is what allows the joy to eventually grow beyond the sorrow.
And so today is one of those unwanted “firsts” that we encounter on our journey through life. It’s the first Father’s Day without the father who taught me about the things that are most important, like the value of hard work, honesty, commitment, loyalty, and treating people right. It is a strange feeling to have the man who shaped so much of who I am and who I leaned on as a sounding board gone, but I am comforted by the fact that I now get to be the dad to my children that he was to me. The son is now the father and the torch is fully passed.
Today is the day we honor and thank those dads who did (and do) their best, through word and action, to pass along those timeless values to their sons and daughters. And therefore, today is not a day of sadness but one of gratitude. Today I feel grateful for the gift of time I got to spend with dad while he was on this earth.
To Dad: Thank you for teaching me to ride a horse and to drive a pickup truck while sitting on your lap. Thank you for coming to my room in the middle of the night as a kid to make sure I was okay when I got scared. Thank you for the Cub Scout trips, the dad’s events, and all those things you did because of me and not because you really wanted to. Thank you for making us go to church and thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for my education. Thank you for putting up with your smart-ass son during the teenage years. Thank you for always being a phone call away and for always listening. Thank you for loving mom for fifty-six years and showing me what love and commitment means. Thank you for making me get up when I didn’t want to and helping me get up when I couldn’t. These words don’t seem like enough but thank you for everything.
If your dad has passed, I encourage you to say a prayer of thanks for all he taught you and provided. If your dad is still here, then tell him thank you for all he has done. And if you don’t have a dad who you can thank, then find that person who gave a damn about you and let him know how you feel.
Finally, if you and your dad aren’t speaking or the relationship is strained, then it is never too late to start trying to mend the breach. People rarely regret giving voice to unsaid words of healing and love, but they always regret the day those words can no longer be said.
I love you, Dad and I’m grateful that you knew it. Well, that’s about it.