My definition of Father’s Day seems to evolve as each year passes and I get more accustomed to my role as a father. Still, this holiday is also a time that allows me to really honor the man that raised me.
My first Father’s Day as a dad was spent at my father-in-law’s house, where my wife and her sister doted on their father. That left me attending to my seven-month-old daughter’s every need for the day. I would have liked to celebrate my first Father’s Day sitting back and relaxing, but I was kept busy with Addie because my wife was doing exactly what she should have been doing — honoring her own father. I realized that’s what I should be doing, too.
Every year that has passed since that weekend, the focus of honoring my father has remained intact. It would be impossible for me to describe just how much he means to me. He and my mother raised me in a way that has brought many blessings to my family, and I will be forever grateful.
My father is a CPA who owns and runs a firm with his partner. He would be at the office for very long hours, six months out of the year. I’m still amazed at the amount of hours he put into his work — all so that his family could have some financial security. His diligence is a lesson that I always take to heart.
During finals while in law school, I would often study from 8 a.m. until 3 a.m. The hours wore me down, especially during the late nights when I was the only one left in the law library. I needed to remain committed to my study schedule — my family was counting on me to be a successful lawyer. When my commitment to the long hours began to wane, I could always call my father at any time of the night or day. My finals schedule always seemed to coincide with my father’s various tax deadlines, which meant he was working the same long hours that I spent studying. Because he was awake, I could easily get the encouragement I needed to finish my day.
Knowing my dad was working long hours for his family at the same time I was studying long hours for my family helped me remain true to my future profession and the commitment that I had made to it.
Despite my dad’s heavy workload, he always made time to play basketball with me in the driveway during the quieter months. I don’t know how many hours we spent in that driveway playing 21, horse, pig or lightning, but I have always viewed those times as some of the most special moments of my life. When we weren’t spending time on the “court,” we were making the neighborhood rounds. There were many occasions where my father took me to neighbors’ houses who were in need of some type of service. For example, I don’t know if there was ever a time where we stopped at shoveling the snow in our own driveway. We would finish ours, and I would watch my father immediately walk to some of the neighbors’ houses and begin shoveling their snow as well. I would follow my father to those houses and help him finish the job.
In my mind, it’s simple: without the sacrifices my father made when I was younger, I would not be where I am today.
Even now, living halfway across the country from him, I look forward to the time that I get to spend with my dad — even if that time is only for an hour on the phone each Sunday. Those hours are priceless and I consider them to be the times when I get to speak to my best friend.
I don’t view Father’s Day just as a time to honor my father, but also as a time to honor my grandparents as well. My paternal grandfather passed away before I was born. Despite the fact that I have never met him, I hear about him often. When I was living in Western New York, nearly 2,000 miles away from where my grandfather lived in Utah his entire life, an elderly couple came up to me and asked if I was related to him. The elderly couple told me how much they respected my grandfather, and that I should always remember that because I carry his name. They told me I should honor the legacy he left by making good life decisions, decisions my grandfather would have made himself.
I have often thought of that conversation when I’m called upon to make such decisions, because I take my grandfather’s legacy very seriously. I have no doubt that my family has benefited from asking what my grandfather would do in similar situations. I have also heard many stories about my maternal grandfather, who I knew for a short while before he passed. Father’s Day is a time for me to honor both of those men.
So that’s what Father’s Day means to me, and that’s what it will mean to me even after my father has passed. There will come a time when my children are grown and they spend the day trying to meet my every need, and I will appreciate their effort, and hope they’ve appreciated mine.
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