Celebrate fathers — today and always

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Today is Father’s Day and millions of dad’s across the country will be engulfed with cards, presents and hugs from children. While I have no children myself, the day still holds a special place in my heart because of my father.

For over 20 years I have coached youth basketball, baseball and soccer teams. I have seen the number of children who have grown up without fathers, or who have fathers who aren’t around. Pope John XXIII once said, “It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.”

Today, far too many children don’t have a present father. They are left to get that fatherly support elsewhere, which a lot of times leads to trouble. According to the US Census Bureau, 19.7 million children live without a father in the home. That leads to a greater risk of behavioral problems, substance abuse, committing a crime and incarceration.

Fortunately, I had a real father growing up and he helped shape me into the man I am today. He was always there when I needed him. I remember him taking off from work to pick me up from practice or to take me to the doctor. He was my little league baseball coach for years and then I was able to coach alongside him for two years when my brother was in little league.

He continued to be there for me as an adult, whether it be driving 30 minutes to help me with a flooded house at 4 in the morning or just to help me replace a belt on my lawnmower. He taught me right from wrong and disciplined me when I needed it. And he taught me one of my most important lessons – know your audience when dropping f-bombs.

As children, we often learn by just observing our parents and what I learned from watching my dad was to always be there for others. My dad would give his shirt off his back for people, no matter what they needed and I like to think I have followed him down that path.

I watched him work tirelessly, taking side jobs like mowing a cemetery just to help provide for us. Still as much as he worked, he always had time to play catch or spend time with me.

I could not have been more blessed to have a father who loved and cared about me. Unfortunately, my father passed away in January. Now I look back at all the times I took for granted what my father provided and can only shake my head. You never completely realize how much a person means to you until they are gone, but I only hope he looked at the man I became and was proud.

To everyone who still has a father, don’t just wait for Father’s Day to give them a big hug and tell them you love them. Don’t take these moments for granted because they won’t always be there.

To my dad and to all the other fathers out there, “Happy Father’s Day.” Thank you for all you do.

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