Saturday, June 19, 2010

For Father's Day

My Dad will be celebrating his special day tomorrow in East Lansing with my sweet mama by themselves. My baby sister entertained them early as she would be out of town on Dad's day and would not miss an opportunity to celebrate our great Dad. I sent him a card and asked for a date for lunch during our annual vacation. I did it last year and truly enjoyed my special time with him. My other sister will find a special way of her own to celebrate him as well.

This is my Dad's 62nd Father's Day. He's enjoyed many gifts and wishes through the years - some very sweet and thoughtful, some crafted with little hands and some pretty traditional gifts. One gift was very funny and as I think back on it he even wore it! When we were quite young we saved our money and purchased Dad a hat that had the top covered in artificial grass with a fisherman perched on the grass with the line cast over the side of the crown to the brim. What a gift! What a Dad to be willing to wear it - much to our great pride.

As my sisters and my parents and I age we seem to understand that a real gift is time together or an experience with them. Rebecca and David planned an opera weekend for this fall with a trip to the Lyric Theatre in Chicago and the opera Carmen that we will all join. We're all in a great state of excitement over this weekend but truth be told we would be excited to get together if we were all sharing hot dogs and chips in the backyard. Our family vacation which we have pursued over 25 years for family fun is way beyond hot dogs and chips but it is a splendid gift from my parents to our family. Mom and Dad started this tradition when the grands or Generation 3 as we refer to them were pretty young. The purpose in this was to give us more opportunities to celebrate and share time even as many other families moved and found it harder and harder to get together. It also caused us to strengthen our family and simply to enjoy being part of such a special group.

Dad and Mom's plan worked quite well and we are one tight group. We have shared good times and bad and came through those times ever stronger. It is a great source of pride to both of my parents but particularly so for Dad. I will never forget grilling with Dad and listening to him extoll the virtues of a strong family unit. In fact grilling with Dad is just an all round favorite experience for me in general. He's an expert griller and as he's taught me about life he has taught me about grilling. I'll never compare to him in his expertise but I will always be a willing student made better by his good words as much as his grilling lessons and wonderful company. Dad fills my need to plan about food and timing and amounts. I have a tendency to think we are feeding the army and Dad brings me back to earth on that one. Gently and with laughter. Grilling at home is a bit lonely but I tend to use this time to reconnect with some happy and tender memories of time with Dad.

One of the things I have most appreciated of late is my Dad's counsel with financial planning. He could have a second career as a financial planner and could create success for his clients and great satisfaction at helping others for himself. As I approach retirement he has been wonderful sharing his thoughtds and perspective. We've poured over my accounts and he's given me some great guidance on investing for the future. He isn't afraid to turn it over to the experts when necessary and plan on his own when he sees that it could be better for us to do that. Just the other day Dad called me excitedly to ask me to make a specific article required reading so we could talk about it after I read it. I so value having him help me with this I hopped right to it. At an age when other folks are content to rest on their laurels he is very sharp and is right on with his guidance. These conversational experiences have been another gift of time with Dad.

Not the last of his many gifts but like the two I've written about is one of my most cherished gifts. Dad inspires me to be a better person. Through my life he has shared his thoughts and views on the world and the nature of people. He truly is a teacher at heart. I have listened and heard him and taken opportunities to follow in his footsteps as he modeled his wonderful character and integrity to me. Sometimes I have failed and failed miserably but he teaches that one gets up and goes at it again continuing the journey. Every day I have the opportunity to be a better person and start anew thanks to Dad. What a great gift!

So to my wonderful Dad on Father's Day thank you for being a gift that continues to share its treasure every day in every way. You're a Dad worth celebrating every day! I love you.

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