Wednesday, November 7, 2012

For Love of the Child

A few days ago I experienced my 48th birthday. I think when you get to be my age, birthdays tend to be more like a necessary nuisance, not a thing of partying and merriment. And given that my sacred day fell on a Monday, life went on without much fanfare; just as I would have hoped. Nobody wants to be reminded that they are nearing half a century like an inbound asteroid dooming the earth. By the way, Monday is the perfect day to experience a birthday you’d sooner forget. Nobody likes a Monday. Perfection in the natural order of things, I’m thinking. Until today.

Today I received a birthday card from my oldest son (he’s 28). He’s a junior, but I’ve always called him Robert; his middle name. I knew the card would be a little late because he had contacted me about getting my address so he could send it, said he had misplaced where he wrote it down before. But then I forgot—until today when I checked the mail. And as fate would have it, the mail had not been checked for several days and was stuffed with parcel, but buried in the pile of slush mail was a birthday card, and here’s what it said, and what brought me face to face with my unconditional love for my child, my son, a man above his years.



There’s no training manual

for being a dad.

No hard fast rules,

no one sure way

to be a perfect father.


All any man can ever do

is give it the best he has.

That’s what you did

for me, Dad,

And I want you to know

I know it.


I can’t say with certainty that my son knew the impact of these words when he bought the card, but as with anything worth believing in, I will cherish these words more than he may ever know. For me, these words tell the story of my love for him, and how being a father is perhaps the toughest job in the world. You see, I’ve always wondered whether I was the father I should—or could have been when he was growing up. Did I give him everything he needed from me? The answer, of course, is no. And the guilt of that lies heavily. But we do the best we can and move on.  

I am a believer in things happening for a reason. My son picked this particular card for a reason—whether realized or not. And it made my WORLD today.

I love you beyond words James Robert Tate Jr!



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