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
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.
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.”
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…
- What do you remember about your dad?
- What do you wish you’d gotten from him?
- Do you give what you wish you’d gotten?
- 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.