What could we possibly give our father that he doesn't already have? How about the gift of ourselves? The last thing most men need is another golf shirt, fancy dinner, or tacky tie. A hand-written card or a home-made card from a grand-child telling him how much they love him is the best gift. He's worth it. After all, he invested a lifetime being a father.
First there was the nine long months of pregnancy. From being sent to the grocery store late at night to satisfy weird cravings, to dealing with their wife's wild mood swings, most men deserve at least one day out of the year to be honored.
Then there was the toddler years- the scrapes, bruises, and sprains, followed by pre-adolescence, and the worrisome teenage years. Especially for dads with daughters. (My poor dad had three!) And when they did all they could to raise their children the best they knew how, there was still more to learn.
In this "Oprah Generation," many adults learned to blame their parents for every flaw in their lives. This "victim mentality" has permeated our nation. People point the finger at their parents which has destroyed relationships.
Our dads did the best they could with the cards they were dealt. Life is too short to leave things left unsaid. Just ask the child of a father whose life was stolen from them from a car accident or from cancer, who never got to say 'I'm sorry' or 'I love you' to their dad one last time.
It sounds cliché, but we should live each day as if was our last. It was Christian Furchtegott Gellert who said "Live as you will wish to have lived when you are dying." Tomorrow is not a promise.
If there are things left unsaid that put a wall up between you and your father, this Father's Day why not take the first step toward recovery?
The first thing to do on the road to recovery is "soften the blow." What you held in for years may have started as something minuscule and has exploded into mammoth-like proportions. Start off by sending an email or letter to bring the subject to light. This gives them time to let it sink in. There are two sides to every story and their perspective may be different from yours.
Next, follow up with a phone call. After the small talk about weather or the game, ask if he received the letter and what he thinks. Let him talk first without interrupting, really listen. Don't bombard him with an attack of "you did this or that," or "you're always so…" Choose your words wisely and remain calm. Instead say something like, "when you did such-and-such it made me feel bad." Focus on the behavior making you feel bad, not him.
Invite him to lunch. Write down unresolved issues to discuss and when you meet bring them with you. Sometimes when we're caught up in emotion we don't get to say what we want to say.
Finally, if an apology is what you're looking for, don't hold your breath. Sometimes just acknowledging the behavior happened is as far as some men will go. If your father is from the "Archie Bunker" generation, talking about their feelings is just something they don't do. Choose to get the issue out in the open, discuss, and move on.
Let's face it, not many had Ward Cleaver or Mike Brady as a dad. Some grew up without a father or were raised by a step-father, grandparent, or uncle. If you were lucky enough to have a man in your life who took care of you, take this day to let him know you care.
The best Father's Day gift we could give our dads is the gift of love, thanks, and time. He already has enough golf shirts and ties.
I would like to dedicate this week's column to my dad, James Michael Leahy. We see each other often even though he lives in Massachusetts, and we talk weekly. Each time we speak he tells me he is proud of me, he loves me, and makes me feel like I am successful in whatever I do.
Thanks dad for all the encouragement, love and support you've given me. Happy Father's Day dad, I love you!
And for those who would like to get their father something tangible this year, try these local retailers:
For a gift certificate to Splash Car Wash click here.
How about a nice relaxing massage?
For sporting goods try the Outdoor Sports Center or Wilton Sports Shop.