16 06 2020

Happy Fathers Day!This will be the 20th Father’s Day without my Dad here on earth and to say that I still miss him would be a grave understatement. Just the other night in a dream of mine, I picked up the phone to call him and it was during the amazing conversation that I realized I was sleeping and none of this was real. When I woke up, the ache was almost as if it was brand new. Time doesn’t heal squat but only reveals how much human beings are truly connected forever.

 I was named after my Father and I proceeded to name our first-born son after him also. I adored my Dad and growing up I seemed to constantly be by his side. I began working with him at a very early age. Whether my Mom didn’t want me at home or my Dad really liked having me there, I spent many more hours with my Pop than I ever did with my Mother.

 I remember going with him when he worked at Morristown High School back in the 1960s. I got to know all the nuances of that building and had discovered many secret passages and behind the scenes places in that structure. It was like my own personal playground.

 I watched my Dad closely even then and watched how he interacted with the other men. Everybody seemed to like Dad and he showed everyone respect. He had the League of Nations on his staff so I got to hear many back stories along the way about coming to America and the daily battles about making a home here and it all depended on which worker I happened to be hanging with on any given day. Funny thing is that I still remember many of those stories and I hear them again in the accent of which they were shared with me. I also cherished the times that Dad had a life lesson for me based upon whatever happened along the way. I loved the way that he trusted me with the work he assigned me and it was always an honor to do what I did just for him.

 On the way to and from, we had those Father-Son talks. Yes, we even had “The Birds and the Bees” conversation on the way one day! I’d much rather talk about the Mets or the Jets back in those days. Girls weren’t on my radar yet. It’s because of his example, I made sure that my own sons heard about the facts of life from me. They too seemed to rather talk about the Mets also! My point is that there are so many teachable moments in the midst of every day if we just learn to seize them! It seems that technology has hijacked some of those potentially poignant interactions that highlight the pilgrimage of a child’s journey to adulthood.

 I did drive Dad nuts by playing the radio. While every now and then he would like some of my music, most of the time it was, “I’m going to throw you and the radio out on the road if I have to hear that song again.” Still, I will never forget when my Dad brought home Elton John’s “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player” album for my Birthday. I knew he went out of his way to find that one. To this day, it is one of my favorite records and tears fall from my eyes at the most random of times. I have also tried to affirm the interests of my children over the years by getting them whatever instrument or gadget they might have been desiring at the time. I love seeing the faces of my own kids and now grandkids light up when they are bestowed that special gift they were just hoping for. Just like Ralphie Parker who got his BB Gun from his Old Man in the perennial classic, “A Christmas Story,” even though Mom thought he would shoot his eye out. There are some assignments held special that only a Father or someone who is a Father-Like figure can fulfill. This is why I wish more men would pay better attention to what is happening all around them. Kids who show up to play sports or those at church who could use a little male input invested into their heart and souls. Women are amazing and never cease to amaze me with all that they truly do. But there are some intangible qualities that should best come from a Man when it comes to initiation into adulthood.

One of the greatest gifts a father can give is making sure that he sets the right example of what our Heavenly Father is all about. Statistics show that many individuals get their perspective of God the Father based upon the men they called Dad. It is hard to swallow the Bible’s portrayal of a God of love, mercy, grace and justice when an earthly model has been nothing at all like the Creator. Nobody is perfect but Dads who are genuine and authentic men of Integrity do much better at laying the foundation than men who have abandoned their post. Absent, angry, judgmental, abusive and violent men have done little to portray a positive glimpse of the Abba in Glory. It is only too late to make a change if you are dead, but as a Minister for almost 40 years, I have seen grown men and women still yearn for nothing more than for their Papa to say, “I love you.” You would think three words wouldn’t be so impossible for so many to spit out, but there have been too many shipwrecks at the sea of family life because the Captain couldn’t put aside his pride to do so.

I only realized last year that with my own Dad in Heaven these last twenty years, it has been something new for me to at times wrestle over the truth of God’s love for me. What used to come so easy with my earthly Dad here with me has now become a bit more challenging with no one left to play that role in my life. I know intellectually that God loves me but when wonderful men on earth are used as His servants to remind one another of that reality, life doesn’t have to be so hard or lonely. I’m 60 years old now and I will never stop telling my children and grandchildren how much I love them; for next to Jesus and my wife Terri, I could love no other people more.  I will never take it for granted what a privilege and honor it is to be a Dad and a Pop-Pop, so on this Father’s Day, may I remind you how much you are loved and if you don’t believe me- come spend some time with me and I will remind you and maybe tell you a story about growing up with my Pop! Happy Father’s Day!   



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