By: Hogan Hilling, Proud Dads
Growing up without a father didn't afford me the luxury of celebrating Father's Day. While Father's day provided my childhood friends with an opportunity to salute their fathers with gifts and cards, the holiday only served as a reminder for me of yet another year of life without a father.
But unlike many children growing up without fathers, I had the good fortune of being reunited with my dad, Henk, when I reached adulthood. After 25 years of separation, Henk and I made up for lost time by sharing our personal stories of life without each other.
Despite our happy reunion, the emotional pain Henk suffered in his life without me proved too much for him. His tears of joy suddenly turned into woeful tears of remorse.
"After your mother and I divorced, we never reconciled our differences and went our separate ways. I tried many times to contact you but I didn't know your whereabouts. Sometimes I think I didn't try hard enough to find you. I'm sorry that I wasn't there for you. I hope you will forgive me."
Listening to Henk made me realize that he had missed me more than I missed him.
It never dawned on me what Henk had gone through all these years and that he also didn't have the luxury of celebrating Father's day during the 25 years we had been apart. How could I not forgive him?
Henk and I never got a chance to celebrate Father's day together as fathers. Nor did he ever get to meet his grandsons. Nevertheless, his testimonial has served as a constant reminder to me about how lucky I am to still have my family intact. If he were alive today, my father would probably tell me not to take fatherhood for granted.
This year marks my 10th anniversary as a father to three boys, Grant, Wesley, and Matt. Like most families we have enjoyed celebrating this Hallmark day with either dinner at my restaurant of choice, a barbecue in which I am relegated to flipping the burgers, or a picnic at a local park.
My Father's Day holidays have also included a few perks. One time mom and the boys served me breakfast in bed. Another time I got an undisturbed afternoon nap without the pitter-patter of crumb crunchers rambling through the house.
And one time my wife, Tina, gave me a henpecked-free day in which she ignored my bad habits, such as the way I drape the bath towel over the shower door instead of the towel rack, squeeze the middle of the toothpaste tube and leave water spots on the sink after I wash my hands. Heck, what man wouldn't appreciate a henpecked-free day?
Father's day, however, involves more than just pampering dear old Dad. The idea of the holiday originated in 1909 when Mrs. John Bruce Dodd persuaded the Ministerial Society of Spokane, Washington, to salute Father's Day with special church services. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recommended national observation of the occasion "to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children, and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations."
After reading the history, I gave more thought as to how I want to observe Father's Day.
Instead of having Tina and the boys salute me, dear old Dad, I've decided to salute them. I will begin each Father's Day by telling Tina and the boys that I love them, then thank them for the wonderful memories they have given me and how lucky I am to have them in my life. Lastly, I will thank them for giving me the privilege of being a father. I could never have been a father without them.
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A Father's Day Story