I remember often "catching" my parents being affectionate. It's not like it's rare. I've amused myself over the years finding similar pictures of me, zeroing in on Jenni.
I knew really early, at an atomic level, that I wanted what they had. I wanted to be happy like that. I knew that being in love, being a family, being a Dad, I knew that it would be where I would become my best self, find my greatest happiness.
I was grateful to know early that being a parent wasn't about what I wanted. It wasn't about the soaring joy of holding them in my arms when they were babies, wanting them to stay little forever. It was about helping them become adults, doing a little shepherding, a little encouraging, letting them find their way, supporting them, finding that balance between correcting, helping, cheering, accepting.
“Marriage is more than your love for each other. … In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man. … So love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God.” -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906 – 1945
So on Father's Day, I am grateful for my Dad.
I am grateful he has been careful and healthy, so he's still here in (relatively) good health. I know it's frustrating to grow old and to have to start keeping track of details, to have to slow down and watch calories, take pills. I want my Dad around for years to come.
I am grateful that he has had a chance to be a Grandpa to my kids. They love Grandpa-time.
I am particularly grateful that he was always so kind towards my son Max, who at times was so frustrating.
I am grateful for the incredible time and attention he's paid as Sam has nurtured his interest in the fire department as it developed into a fully ripe desire to be a fireman.
As my children have grown, as I have experience the melancholy of adult problems (how I have longed to shed the burdens that cannot be solved, but only endured), I've wondered what kind of adult relationship I will have with my own children. I've wondered if Dad is happy with how responsive, successful, engaged, his own children are. I wonder if I can do better to honor him as a man and a father.
But I love you Dad, and I am grateful every day that I have you. You are a good man, you are a great Dad. I've spent my whole adult life being a father with you as my template. As I consider the coming decades, I know I will continue to be grateful for your example as a Grandpa, too.
Happy Father's Day.