A father’s work is never done, but it’s a role he relishes.
It’s what makes him tick.
It’s what defines him.
He is a provider. A father finds time. For his kids. His wife. The important things in life. The only things in life.
When he must, he sacrifices and compromises for the ones he loves. It’s not an easy job, but successful juggling isn’t reserved solely for the circus.
He teaches. Not simply from words on paper, but from the heart and mind, each a burgeoning volume of knowledge accrued during the course of a lifetime.
He also teaches from experience.
How to fling a curve ball.
How to fling a fly fishing loop.
How to fling lead at a game bird.
A father knows his limitations. He is capable, but sometimes he must ask for help. Nothing wrong with that. It’s good to learn from others, especially his wife. She complements him. He’s thankful every day she said yes — or simply allowed him to be with her. That’s the ultimate compliment paid him.
A father is a coach, whether the field has base paths or yard lines, but especially at the game of life, which doesn’t have any discernible markings dictating an exact course. Field general he really is.
Chess player he also must be, knowing the next half-dozen moves before the pieces have nudged an inch. Again, the triumphant thought of provided happiness, even the pursuit of happiness, is what drives him.
A father knows how to laugh. Especially at himself. After all, this fleeting lifetime is much too brief to be angry, at least for more than a few minutes.
A father also knows when he must be stern. With his children. With co-workers. With himself. With the neighbor loaned a power tool for the 10th time. A couple of times is hospitality. Get your own set.
A father knows how to cry. And how to hide it. Especially from his children, whose achievements may bring tears, but those that drip solely out of pride.
He is a negotiator. Ever try getting two young children to behave and sit still in church? A father carries the bag of adequate distractions, disguised as toys, which keep a civil tone and don’t disrupt Mass. Not that it would have been a big commotion. God provides the gift of children, something everyone sitting peacefully in their pew understood. Again, the master of compromise at work.
A father is a protector. Women. Children. The family dog and cat. He holds his children’s hands or offers the crook of his arm to his wife when they cross the street. Other times he does it just to feel the warmth of a kind touch. Won’t be long before his kids will outgrow treks with daddy.
He is a doctor. General family practice is his specialty, and any minor emergency has a fix. Even a frenzied son who buries a fishing hook in his face. A wide grin may have surfaced as he inspected his child, but a helping set of gentle hands ejected the barb and patched the divot no bigger than the head of a pin.
He also dabbles in psychiatry. He must since you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Stubbornness rises in every living thing, especially children who don’t want to go to bed. And dogs that don’t want to go to the vet. And wives that say you won’t go fishing this weekend but instead go shopping.
He finds solutions. Always for the family first but sometimes you simply must go fishing. It’s a rule. Look it up.
Today is a day for the teachers. Those still with us and those who we will see again down the road.
It’s a day to honor the ultimate utility man. The Renaissance man. The everyman.
Wherever you are, whether you see your old man on a regular basis or not, pick up the phone, drop by or give a nod to the sky.
It takes two words: Thanks, dad.