Friday, June 07, 2013

So what are you going to get the big guy for Father’s Day? Life is more than a bucket of Super Bowl beer on ice. This is the guy who taught you everything you know about life, love and family!

You have come to understand he is more than a box of candy or matching socks, tie and hanky set. There is a soul in there that has made years of sacrifices so that you could become who you have grown up to be. You can’t just give him some back-of-the-bottom-drawer gift.

Maybe he’s the guy who held your hand and went with you from house to house all dressed up on Halloween. Maybe he watched you learn to dance ballet or taught you to play softball. It was undoubtedly him who was with you when you fell or failed and he gave you that helping hand when you most needed it.

Maybe he’s the guy who invariably let you down occasionally because he’s only human after all. I know there have been times when I have let my own kids down and I have regretted doing or not doing something just like he probably has. He probably has forgiven you for your childish mistakes even though some of them were probably pretty costly and you may have come to terms with his humanness also.

What would you be willing to do for this guy, the man who was by your side all through childhood? Love is an incredibly powerful force and there are probably few, if any, sacrifices you wouldn’t be willing to make for him. I’m sure the same has been true for him.

What I’m talking about here is this: you know pretty much who this guy is and you are wondering what you can do for him on Father’s Day that is going to be really special? We all know he’d be pleased with a funny card and knowing that you are thinking about him. That would probably be enough for him, wouldn’t it?

But we also know that this is when you want to show him some small measure of what he means to you. Yes, he’s your dad but that is just what he is. If you wanted to do the same as everybody else you would also be willing to go with the all the abundance of Father’s Day merchandise that is getting stocked on the shelves to give him as a gift and then sit down for dinner with him. That’s all about what he is but I believe the question you are starting to ask yourself is more about WHO is he? That’s the question that will make what you do when you spend time with him on June 17th be the kind of experience you are really looking for.

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Does he like to garden? Or would he rather have a fountain in the front of the house to make him feel like a king when he comes home? Does he like to read? Or would he like to spend a few hours in the afternoon telling fantastic stories to a bunch of neighborhood kids? Does he like to look at travel magazines? Maybe what he would really like is to learn French and spend a few weeks in Paris learning how to use Le Metro and finding out which Boulangerie in Montmartre makes the best croissants? He may have been so busy raising his kids that he really hasn’t considered doing some of the things he would really prefer. In fact, he might be approaching the age of retirement without knowing how to get on with some of the things he would really enjoy the experience of doing, being or having.

That’s one of the problems in life! We get so busy living that we don’t spend much time asking if what we’re settling for is what we really want. That’s why Socrates’ words make us uncomfortable. Most of us never even get to the point in our lives where we can speculate on whom, not what, we really are. We are like trains on a track; our course is in front of us just a little further ahead and, when we come to the end of the line, is that going to be somewhere we really want to be?

Of course that’s not something we can decide for another person, especially when he is our dad. The best we can do is follow his example and care enough to want the best for him and try to be there for him along the way. Tomorrow maybe too far away and today, God forbid may be the only option we have, which means we’ve got to start now! This June 16th has to be the day we really step out of that box of usual things and do something really loving for him.

Twenty-six years ago I got the opportunity to start finding out what I really wanted to do and had the good fortune to be able to start doing some of those things. I subsequently became a poet and changed my career to better suit the person I was discovering I really was. I was 42 when I began doing all this. That Father’s Day was pretty scary but, with the support of my wife and kids, it turned out to be something pretty wonderful. Last year I finished a book of poetry dealing with the self-discoveries, the knowledge of my many parts that were necessary for me to understand the nature of my real identity. I can’t guarantee your dad is like me but if this book opens any new door for him that would surely be wonderful.

Maybe you’ll give your dad that funny card and a copy of my book to read. It could be the start of something new and wonderful for the big guy! Here are some links you can use to find it:;;

Have the best Father’s Day!


Russell Duffy said...

Sadly mine died just as I was really getting to know him. I had gone through the whole 'rebellious youth' thing and had come out the other side to realise my dad was kind of okay, cool even. I am nearing sixty and dad was sixty three when he died.
This year my kids are buying a 'surprise' which is this...'Levinas and Nineteenth-Century Literature: Ethics and Otherness from Romanticism Through Realism' by Donald R Wehrs who I shall be meeting in London in July. How good is that?

Russell Ragsdale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Russell Ragsdale said...

Hi Russell Duffy, I hope as your 60th approaches, my dear friend, you will have the squid and some other members of your fine brood close at hand to make it special. The surprise they are buying you sounds wonderful. I thinks we have miles to go before we sleep. I'll be a somewhat spry 69 in November and I'm working on my next book. Thanks for the great comment and warm best wishes with your coming birthday.