fullsizeoutput_613bThis will be my 25th Father’s Day as a dad.

I honestly do not know where those years went. But I’m glad I was there for every one of them. My life began when I became a father. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, however imperfectly.

Sadly, my dad never got to see me my boys. Four months before I became a dad I lost my dad. So today I would like to muse a bit about fatherhood, my relationship with my dad, and what he taught me about life.

We Give What We Wish We Had Gotten

I lost my father 25 years ago, but I had actually lost him long before that. At the risk of overstating it, I didn’t really know my dad and he never really knew me. When he died, I didn’t so much as lose a relationship with my father, but the possibility of one. That’s what struck me so hard that day: whatever hopes I had for a relationship with my dad died with him. We would never have what I had always wanted so badly.

It was a different day. Dads worked, moms raised kids. At least that’s the way it was in my neighborhood. So I felt very emotionally close to my mom but invisible to my dad. Today I engage in deep, meaningful conversations for a living. But I can count on one hand the meaningful talks I had with my own dad. We give what we wish we had gotten.

A Tale of Two Fathers

I mean no disrespect. I’m simply telling my story, my truth, accurate or not.

My dad was a good father, but he wasn’t very present. He couldn’t make it to my little league games, school events, college graduation, or even my wedding. Honestly, I scratch my head that I’m not more insecure and damaged than I am. But I attribute this to finding my Heavenly Father. When I met Him, healing began. And it continues.

And I want to make this clear: I always felt loved by my dad. He gave his kids much more than he ever received, and that’s all parents can hope to do.

I know my dad loved me and I certainly loved him. As a tribute to Carlos G. Garcia, here are 7 special ways my dad lived, loved, and left a legacy for me.

My Dad’s Impact on Me

1. My dad was funny.
At least, he thought so. He would often tell some lame joke then let out a howling belly laugh. Most of his jokes were of the “Pull my finger” variety. There’s no bad joke like a dad joke, but I loved them. Still do.

2. My dad was Mexican.
He filled our home with Mariachi music, which I hated at the time but miss now. At 50, I decided to learn Spanish. He’d have been proud of me for it, I bet.

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3. My dad was a hard worker.
He was a salesman. When I was a boy, he managed an appliance store, working 10 am – 10 pm, six days a week. When I was a teen, he worked even more. He was never home for dinner or around on weekends. I wish he had been.

4. My dad was friendly.
He never met a stranger. I saw him walk in and light up a room with his warm, welcoming way. He was a real includer, perhaps because he felt like an outsider himself.

5. My dad was generous.
“Your dad would give the shirt off his back to help me and my family,” someone once told me. Out with friends or extended family, he would pick up the tab for the entire party.

6. My dad was a hustler.
I mean this positively and negatively. He was a go-getter and he was a rule-breaker. He cheated at Scrabble, even when he was winning. The stakes were higher in South Central LA and things caught up with him.

7. My dad was wise and gracious.
One of our rare deep talks was about me going away to college. He let me make my own decision and I said somberly, “I guess I’ll go, then. Hopefully, it works out.”
He laughed out loud and said, “If it doesn’t, just come home.”

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I wish he could have held his grandsons and that they could have known him. I’ve tried to give my boys what he gave me and what I wish I’d gotten. How about you? What’s your story?

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there, imperfect as they may be.

Coaching Convo Questions…

  1. What do you remember about your dad?
  2. What do you wish you’d gotten from him?
  3. Do you give what you wish you’d gotten?
  4. Do you know God as your Father? What difference has He made?

Please leave a few of your thoughts in the Comments box below. Some sweet folks have left some sweet comments already. You’ll find them by clicking Comments at the top of the page, near the title of this post.

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32 Comments. Leave new

  • Very sweet post Steve! I recall that one year on Father’s Day, you encouraged us to tell someone something positive about our dads. That was good for me. I recalled that I told a friend that my dad was generous. My mom would go out and buy me a new dress (which I loved because I hate to shop!); my dad would give me some money to go buy one for myself. I miss both of those gestures!

    I was with my dad on Father’s Day eleven years ago when he took his own life. I don’t really recall the date. It’s easier just to say it was Father’s Day and that way I only have to associate it with a day and not a date as well. There have actually been a couple of years recently that it has slipped my mind as Father’s Day approached that it was also the day my dad killed himself. I’m so thankful for that, for the healing and not being haunted by it as it approaches each year. I attribute that to my Heavenly Father and his love for me and healing hand on my life.

    I usually try to get through Father’s Day now without thinking about my Dad. It’s just too painful and disturbing and I don’t really want to go there. Instead I think about my husband and the awesome father and husband he is and how thankful I am for the dads he had that made him the wonderful man he is.

    Reply
    • Thank you for that comment, Beth. It can take real effort to be positive when there is such profound pain in a relationship. Your dad’s generosity is a wonderful legacy, a gift that you’ve taken to a stratospheric level. I still don’t understand why he had to pick that particular time and place, with you there on Father’s Day to do what he did, but I suppose logic isn’t running things in such tragedies. You’ve survived and overcome so much. John is certainly a superb dad to focus upon this holiday season.

      Reply
  • Very sweet post Steve! I recall that one year on Father’s Day, you encouraged us to tell someone something positive about our dads. That was good for me. I recalled that I told a friend that my dad was generous. My mom would go out and buy me a new dress (which I loved because I hate to shop!); my dad would give me some money to go buy one for myself. I miss both of those gestures!

    I was with my dad on Father’s Day eleven years ago when he took his own life. I don’t really recall the date. It’s easier just to say it was Father’s Day and that way I only have to associate it with a day and not a date as well. There have actually been a couple of years recently that it has slipped my mind as Father’s Day approached that it was also the day my dad killed himself. I’m so thankful for that, for the healing and not being haunted by it as it approaches each year. I attribute that to my Heavenly Father and his love for me and healing hand on my life.

    I usually try to get through Father’s Day now without thinking about my Dad. It’s just too painful and disturbing and I don’t really want to go there. Instead I think about my husband and the awesome father and husband he is and how thankful I am for the dads he had that made him the wonderful man he is.

    Reply
    • Thank you for that comment, Beth. It can take real effort to be positive when there is such profound pain in a relationship. Your dad’s generosity is a wonderful legacy, a gift that you’ve taken to a stratospheric level. I still don’t understand why he had to pick that particular time and place, with you there on Father’s Day to do what he did, but I suppose logic isn’t running things in such tragedies. You’ve survived and overcome so much. John is certainly a superb dad to focus upon this holiday season.

      Reply
  • Steve,

    What a wonderful blog post. I relate to so many things that were hard for you about your dad. But you also highlighted those positive characteristics. I see some of those same positives in you. I want writing something similar — making it an exercise. Father’s Day is just around the corner — I love my Dad for what he did give and I’ll forgive him for what he didn’t.
    Happy Father’s Day early. I’m sure you’re a great Dad. Your family is fortunate.
    ~ Cheri

    Reply
    • Thank you, Cheri. I will look forward to reading what you write on the subject. Please post a link here for me and my tribe to see. Thanks for reading and commenting. Always appreciated.

      Reply
  • Steve,

    What a wonderful blog post. I relate to so many things that were hard for you about your dad. But you also highlighted those positive characteristics. I see some of those same positives in you. I want writing something similar — making it an exercise. Father’s Day is just around the corner — I love my Dad for what he did give and I’ll forgive him for what he didn’t.
    Happy Father’s Day early. I’m sure you’re a great Dad. Your family is fortunate.
    ~ Cheri

    Reply
    • Thank you, Cheri. I will look forward to reading what you write on the subject. Please post a link here for me and my tribe to see. Thanks for reading and commenting. Always appreciated.

      Reply
  • Marcie cornish
    June 15, 2017 8:06 am

    Steve,
    Thanks for a post that shares many of our stories.I too like you, never had a father around because my parents divorced when I was 3. I only saw my father 4 or 5 times my whole childhood.

    I dreaded Father’s Day for along time. It always reminded me of what I did not have. At 13 I accepted the Lord and He healed my abandonment issues.

    Over the last 28 years it has been a joy to watch Brad be a great Dad.He has made so many choices for our girls. He was so involved and Loving.

    Praise God we have a Heavenly Father that is always present and provides for all our needs and most of all loves me unconditionally.

    Reply
    • Dang, Marcie. That’s an amazing testimony. Your childhood was so far from ideal but you survived it and are such a phenomenal person. And so is your husband. Just goes to show you what good preaching week after week can do, right? 😀

      Reply
  • Marcie cornish
    June 15, 2017 8:06 am

    Steve,
    Thanks for a post that shares many of our stories.I too like you, never had a father around because my parents divorced when I was 3. I only saw my father 4 or 5 times my whole childhood.

    I dreaded Father’s Day for along time. It always reminded me of what I did not have. At 13 I accepted the Lord and He healed my abandonment issues.

    Over the last 28 years it has been a joy to watch Brad be a great Dad.He has made so many choices for our girls. He was so involved and Loving.

    Praise God we have a Heavenly Father that is always present and provides for all our needs and most of all loves me unconditionally.

    Reply
    • Dang, Marcie. That’s an amazing testimony. Your childhood was so far from ideal but you survived it and are such a phenomenal person. And so is your husband. Just goes to show you what good preaching week after week can do, right? 😀

      Reply
  • What a powerful post and testimony!!!!! Thank you!

    Reply
  • What a powerful post and testimony!!!!! Thank you!

    Reply
  • When my father died my hopes and dreams for a relationship died with him. He had potential to be a fabulous father. He would have been a wonderful grandfather. Mental illness and alcoholism stole that from everyone.

    Having a heavenly father is indescribable, but doesn’t fill the void of having a father that could not be a father. Maturity, and finally understanding how he must have felt have allowed me to accept the situation, and love my father for who he was.

    Reply
  • When my father died my hopes and dreams for a relationship died with him. He had potential to be a fabulous father. He would have been a wonderful grandfather. Mental illness and alcoholism stole that from everyone.

    Having a heavenly father is indescribable, but doesn’t fill the void of having a father that could not be a father. Maturity, and finally understanding how he must have felt have allowed me to accept the situation, and love my father for who he was.

    Reply
  • Carole Madison
    June 16, 2017 8:23 am

    Thanks Steve for sharing about your childhood. I am so very thankful that the Lord is in the redeeming business, whether for salvation or picking up the pieces of our lives and not limiting us by the past.
    My father sounds a lot like your father in the necessity for work to make ends meet and seldom ( never?) being there emotionally. My parents eventually divorced and he didn’t attend my graduations either- nor did HIS mother come to my wedding as she didn’t want to be near my mother.
    Amazing the marvelous grace that has been extended to us, right?
    Happy Father’s Day! Your sons rise up and call you ” Blessed”! Well done!

    Reply
  • Carole Madison
    June 16, 2017 8:23 am

    Thanks Steve for sharing about your childhood. I am so very thankful that the Lord is in the redeeming business, whether for salvation or picking up the pieces of our lives and not limiting us by the past.
    My father sounds a lot like your father in the necessity for work to make ends meet and seldom ( never?) being there emotionally. My parents eventually divorced and he didn’t attend my graduations either- nor did HIS mother come to my wedding as she didn’t want to be near my mother.
    Amazing the marvelous grace that has been extended to us, right?
    Happy Father’s Day! Your sons rise up and call you ” Blessed”! Well done!

    Reply
  • Steve this is so raw and awesome. You’re realness mixed with gratitude is encouraging to me.
    My maternal grandmother was a dynamic women who died of pneumonia/alcoholism before I met her. While reading this I thought of her. Although I never met her, I have deep affection for her and I love to learn about her life. I’m glad to learn more about the life of Carlos Garcia through your eyes.

    Reply
    • Yeah. It’s crazy to think of people we never got to know who could have been special in our lives, to really have shaped us. I know my boys would have loved loved loved Grandpa Garcia, because he was so funny and so full of life. AND…I think my grandchildren will get a better version of me than my children did. That’s probably often the case, right?

      Reply
  • Steve this is so raw and awesome. You’re realness mixed with gratitude is encouraging to me.
    My maternal grandmother was a dynamic women who died of pneumonia/alcoholism before I met her. While reading this I thought of her. Although I never met her, I have deep affection for her and I love to learn about her life. I’m glad to learn more about the life of Carlos Garcia through your eyes.

    Reply
    • Yeah. It’s crazy to think of people we never got to know who could have been special in our lives, to really have shaped us. I know my boys would have loved loved loved Grandpa Garcia, because he was so funny and so full of life. AND…I think my grandchildren will get a better version of me than my children did. That’s probably often the case, right?

      Reply
  • Thanks for sharing the good, the bad & a little bit of ugly……as this is my first Father’s Day without my dad, it’s kind of emotional. It’s also the 4 year anniversary of my mom’s passing (13th) & my youngest’s 25th birthday is 2 days away…..lots of memories.

    Reply
  • Thanks for sharing the good, the bad & a little bit of ugly……as this is my first Father’s Day without my dad, it’s kind of emotional. It’s also the 4 year anniversary of my mom’s passing (13th) & my youngest’s 25th birthday is 2 days away…..lots of memories.

    Reply

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