My oldest, the daughter who made me a "Dad," just celebrated her 28th birthday. Back in 1992, I only had to wait a few days from her birth to celebrate my first Father's Day. I did not expect to receive anything material from her that first year, nor have I since.
The gifts she and her younger sister has given me over the years have been countless; early on they made me gifts, and then started buying me items to show their love. The gifts that I hold onto longer, and will forever cherish, are the gifts that no one can see. The pride that I have received from their accomplishments — big and small — outweigh anything they buy in a story or online, or even anything they craft with their very talented hands.
Father's Day has become the punchline for jokes of bad ties, failed cookouts, Dads just wanting to be left alone. Those of us fortunate to still have a dad in our lives are always searching for that perfect gift to make the old man happy.
I've given up on trying to give my Dad that perfect gift to make his day. Not because I don't love him, but because at 88 he has everything that he needs, and if he doesn't have it, he goes out to buy it himself.
As I age, and it seems even stronger this year maybe due to all going on in the world, I look more at what I have given my children than what they have given me. Same goes as I look at the relationship between my Dad and myself. I know no gift can adequately show him the appreciation for all that he has given me over the years.
I learned my work ethic from my Dad. He voices regret of not being there for my brother and I when we were young. But he was there, even though he may not have been working by our sides when we were old enough to be doing chores. When he wasn't doing his own farming, he was off shelling corn, hauling peas or moving grain bins, doing whatever he had to so that we could eat, have clothes on our backs and shelter over our heads.
He also taught me the love and care that we need to give our hogs. Though there is no longer a hog on the place, those lessons have served me well throughout life.
One of the greatest gifts that I received from my Dad was one of respect. Both my parents taught early on that we respect our elders and people in authority. We could all use a larger dose of that these days. He has also shown that respect is a two-way street.
During these crazy times of COVID-19 and the world of unrest, we see people going through crisis. We all handle crises differently, but hopefully you have had a good base to fall back on to guide you through it all.
Notice that I purposefully used Dad rather than Father throughout this piece. Any male can father a child, but not everyone can be a Dad. That takes someone special. As my Dad has taught me life lessons, I hope that I have done the same for my daughters.
To all the top-notch Dads out there, Happy Dad's Day!