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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 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.