Since I started this blog a few years ago, I’ve had an opportunity to share about many parts of my life – and thank many of the people who have had an impact on it – but up until now, I haven’t given my Dad his proper due. So it’s only appropriate that on Father’s Day, I take this opportunity to both thank him and share what he has meant to me.
I’ve been lucky because I’ve had a strong bond with my Dad as long as I can remember – primarily because of our mutual love of sports. Growing up I was the one child (out of 4) who was really into sports – so it was a natural bonding activity for Dad and I since he has always been a huge sports fan. I fell in love with the same teams he cheered for – primarily the San Francisco 49ers and Giants – and always looked forward to going to games with him. Knowing how much I loved the 49ers, Dad always tried to take me to at least one game a season when I was kid. Many times it was a pre-season game, because that fell so close to my birthday (and I think my Dad got a deal on the tickets from his boss because they were pre-season tickets). But I didn’t care – it was always a thrill for me every time I entered Candlestick Park with Dad and had a chance to cheer for our team together.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from my Dad (and Mom) was the power of unconditional love and support. Whether it was swimming on a swim team, playing recreational baseball, playing football or really any sports/activity I was involved in, I always knew that I had their support. Even though he had anything but a flexible schedule, Dad still made an effort to get off work early (when he could) to watch a flag football game or help coach a WCYAA baseball game. He also was usually up for a game of catch or helping me practice a sport – he even famously severely sprained his ankle (requiring a cast) one Thanksgiving playing football with me and my friends in the street. (I learned later he endured endless teasing at his office from his “sports injury” that was the result of 11 year old boys).
Like most (or all?) grown adults, I’ve also experienced difficult times with Dad but I know that working through these times has made our relationship that much stronger. Obviously its never easy to talk to, or confront, your parents when you feel something is wrong in the relationship, but to Dad’s credit he’s always listened to me, my concerns and feelings – and has been willing to talk things out.
And now that I’m a father myself, I of course have a very different perspective (and appreciation) for Dad and how hard he worked (and sacrificed) for me and my siblings. I know first-hand that raising children is *not* easy by any stretch of the imagination – but it is very rewarding. And I’m trying to apply many of the same lessons I’ve learned from Dad with Stone and Ty.
As I get older I have a greater appreciation for the importance of family and the power of family connections and love. I’m very grateful that on this Father’s Day, I get to share it with Dad and my own family. We’ll be attending a Giants baseball game again together – and this time it’ll be in Seattle while bringing Ty along to experience a game for the first time in his young life. Of course I would also love to bring Stone for the same shared experience, but that moment will have to come later as he’s just not quite ready yet to understand, appreciate or enjoy a baseball game. But I do know that day *will* come.
I’ve said many times before that I consider it both an honor and a blessing that I get to experience being a father myself. There was a time before Stone and Ty were born when I wasn’t sure I would be able to experience fatherhood and it was difficult – especially on Father’s Day. I remember in particular taking Dad to another Giants game on Father’s Day with Renee and watching on the scoreboard before the game a video homage from the players to their dads (set to the Foo Fighters song, “There goes my hero”). I was glad I was wearing sunglasses, because the song and video made my eyes tear up a bit as a longed for that experience myself. I was grateful to be sharing that experience with my own Dad – but couldn’t wait to do it myself with my own son.
On this Father’s Day, that wish will come true nearly 8 years later.
Dad will turn 80 next year and he’s already requested his birthday wish to us: he wants the family (as many of us kids as possible at least) to convene with him in his home state of North Dakota so that we can see firsthand our family history, and hopefully learn and appreciate more about the childhood he had growing up on a farm there. I have to admit there was a time when I would have had no interest in using my precious vacation time for a trip to North Dakota – but Renee and I agreed this is very important for the whole family so we told him we’re definitely in. I’m sure that will be another special event and memory.