Since Father’s day is approaching, I thought I’d share a few of the reasons I love my Dad. Now, in case I’ve got some of my Aussie readers freaking out, rest assured, Father’ day isn’t until September 6th over there, so you’ve got time!
Like many young men, my relationship with my Dad wasn’t always great. In fact there were times it was very rocky. As a teenager I, self-righteously, put all the blame on him. As I grew older (and hopefully humbler) I began to realize much of the blame for this could be laid on my shoulders also.
When I became a Christian at the age of seventeen, I attended different prayer groups who spoke about how important it was that people ask their Heavenly Father to heal the wounds inflicted by their earthly Fathers. If they didn’t, they’d just project onto God the shortcomings of their earthly Dads. This is good advice, I think; but like many things, it can be overdone, abused. People can become scrupulous, constantly examining their wounds, chalking up all of their fears and personality defects to their relationship with their Father.
As I started having kids of my own—realizing first-hand how extremely difficult it can be to be a good Dad—I began to have a whole lot more compassion. Many of the mistakes I would say he made, I made during the first years of my kids life.
At some point there was a shift, which, if I put it into words would sound like, “yep, my Dad made mistakes, he did and said some things that really hurt me. But you know what? Who hasn’t! I’ve also said and done things that have deeply hurt others, including my kids. But my Dad did many good things, and I’m not going to allow his mistakes to blind me to those.”
So, with that said, here’s a few things my Dad did that I think were tops.
1. He always loved my Mum (that’s right, “Mum”)
My Dad always spoke beautifully about Mum. I remember several times—one in particular—when we’d be driving together and he’d start going on about how great Mum was. “She’s a bloody good woman, your mother,” he’d say. Dad worked a stressful job, and whenever he’d come home, Mum would have two cups of coffee ready (the instant kind—yuk!). Every weekday the two of them would talk under the verandah for a good while. I remember Dad telling me, “If I didn’t have your beautiful Mother, I don’t know what I’d do.”
Whenever my Dad would travel for work (which wasn’t often), he’d always hide post-it notes around the house for Mum to find, telling her how much he loved her. Don’t get the idea that my Dad was sappy, he wasn’t. He’s got as thick an Australian accent as you could imagine and most of the post-it notes, I’m sure, were cheeky. Mum loved it.
As a kid, I would often hear my Mum, late at night, belly laughing to some joke my Dad had told her. No one could make Mum laugh like Dad—maybe Carl Barron (Aussie reference). One day while the two of them were driving home, Dad told Mum a joke that made her laugh so hard she lost control of the car! Dad had to take over driving from the passenger seat while Mum cried with laughter.
You want to know what the joke was? If you’re easily offended don’t read the next few lines: “If I’ve got a moth ball in this hand, and a moth ball in this hand, what do I have? . . . a bloody big moth!” That was the joke. The joke that nearly left me an orphan. 🙂
2. He would defend us tooth and nail
When I was 13, there was a teacher at my school who, to say he didn’t like me would be an understatement. One day, in front of several year 12 girls (seniors) he called me a bad name. Like a really bad name. Like a, it’s-such-a-bad-name-I-won’t-repeat-it-on my-blog, bad name. I remember feeling really hurt but was hesitant to tell Dad. Why? Because I knew he wouldn’t let it go. I knew he’d “call the bastard!” (it’s much less offensive if you imagine it in an Aussie accent) and let him have it.
That’s exactly what he did do when I eventually told him and my poor teacher—I actually felt sorry for him—was forced to apologize to me.
3. He Persevered
I don’t know if this quote is attributed to anyone in particular, but it’s a good one: “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” How beautiful and true is that. Everyone you and I’ve met today—the lady at Walmart, your next door neighbor who you only caught a glimpse of as he drove by, your spouse—is fighting a battle. The battle of life. And life, let’s be honest, can be brutal!
I mentioned earlier that my Dad had a very stressful job. From all appearances he hated it. And yet he did it. He also had a very difficult, hard-headed, selfish son (me), and yet he did his best to love me too. When I look around and see the many Dads who gave up on their families and walked out of their lives, I’m incredibly grateful for my Dad who, despite how hard things got, stuck it out. What a good man he was and is. I’m thankful to God for him.
One final story which doesn’t really fit into the categories I’ve laid out but I think is worth telling. When I was about to propose marriage to Cameron, I asked him if we could go on a walk so that I could tell him of my plans. I knew he’d be honored that I told him before Mum. We went for a walk around a few blocks, and I showed him the modest ring I bought. . . . side note: my Dad isn’t what you’d call a religious man, which, I think, makes his advice all the more impressive. . . His council to me was that if I was to get married “to this girl” I should always be faithful to her. But, not being a strong Catholic he didn’t have the sort of pious, religious jargon that you might be expecting. He said, “there’s all these married blokes jumping in and out of bed with different sheilas. Bullsh*t it is. You stay faithful to her, okay?” “Yes, Dad.”
Happy Father’s day to the man who has influenced me in ways I won’t fully understand until Heaven.