It’s Father’s Day and I feel oddly like I should apologize for the wealth of positive father figures I’ve had in my life. I know that not everyone is that lucky. But not appreciating the gifts in my life is a big waste, so I’m not going to apologize and I’m not going to brag. What I’m going to do is reflect, appreciate, and share the lessons I’ve learned about love from the men who are fathers to me.
My dad, my grandfathers, and my father-in-law are the authors of these lessons. They might be surprised to know that. But it’s a reminder that in everything we do, people — notably those closest to us — are watching.
Lessons on love by the fathers in my life
1. Love shows up. This is the first thing I think of when I think of my dad. He shows up. When there is a need or a celebration or an open Friday evening, my dad is there. When a stroke kept him from attending Charlie’s high school graduation, he watched it streaming live from the hospital. There was no way he wasn’t going to be there.
2. Love is action, even small ones. My father-in-law could buy my mother-in-law anything she wanted. But one of the greatest, and small ways, he showed love to her was sitting on the couch rubbing her feet. Oh, he did plenty of other things to show he loved her, but that quiet act is something I always remember.
3. Love does not get old, it gets deep. Both sets of my grandparents were married for a bazillion years — or at least more than 50. And when I watched both of my grandfathers (Grandpa and PaPa) be with my grandmothers (Grandma and NaNa), I could almost see them as smitten young 20-somethings. The love they had was deep, forged over decades of joy and heartache. The love they had and showed for my grandmothers, that’s #lifegoals material.
4. Love is funny. So, he’s not my dad, but Mike fills our house with humor. He plays a great comic relief to my often too-serious straight man. And though my PaPa has been gone for a few years, his legacy of PaPa jokes lives on. You know the kind — corny, punny jokes that make you smile and grown at the same time. Here’s one for you: “Why do cows have hooves instead of feet? Because they lactose.”
5. Love challenges. This is one of those lessons that can be infuriating in the midst, but looking back, is the greatest gift. There have been times when both my dad and Mike’s dad have challenged one of us to do something more or better or differently. The response in the moment is sometimes “lay off” or “mind your own business” or “you don’t know what you’re talking about.” But when love challenges, it’s not because we are not good enough, but because it wants the best for us.
So, on this Father’s Day, I’m going to acknowledge how lucky I am and be grateful for it. To Mike, Dad, Tom, and Grandpa — and to PaPa in heaven, Happy Father’s Day.