Its Father’s day.
Yesterday while saying our goodbyes as we prepared to leave Bishop California after a week at the California High School Rodeo Finals, a friend slapped me on the back and said; well at least we will all be home for father’s day!
I chuckled and made some smart ass quip about spending the day cleaning the trailer, tack, horses and clothing. Yup father’s day at its finest! Grumble, grumble…..
This morning after rousting my crew awake, driving one to craziness as he drug his very tired butt outside to feed, I decided maybe Father’s day was indeed a perfect day to be revered. But not in the way most would think.
Father’s day has always been a day for others to appreciate their dads. The men who shaped and modeled, be it through exemplary parenting, a fumbled menagerie of discourse or simply a reflection of horrific role modeling that brought you, now an adult, into the parental place you are today; good bad or otherwise.
One problem for me on this day of days.
My dad isn’t here anymore.
My father passed away on December 31st 2015. This is my first father’s day without him. Something I am realizing this morning I took for granted. He is not here for me to call in the morning, take to lunch or dinner in the afternoon, hand a card to and hug. His frail shaky body no longer walks the driveways between our houses, his voice no longer bellowing larger than life yelling “slow down” towards speeding cars lost on our dirt road. No lecturing my boys on speeding around the property aboard a quad, dirt bike, tractor or horse. No laughter at Jakes antics or pride while watching Cody triumph at just about everything he does. No glee watching Parker or a simple, sly faced smile while seeing Jessica ride in the arena. No dad for me to bounce ideas about a horse from, just silence, a vacancy, an emptiness and I cannot help but stare at the spot in the driveway where he passed.
Yesterday to make emotional matters worse my wife’s uncle passed away from a tumor in his brain. We all knew it was coming yet as I am sure you all know that doesn’t make it any easier. I understand it really shouldn’t matter but not making it an additional 24 hours, his children are now spending father’s day without their dad. It seems like a silly thought but it is one of the man things I found myself thinking about first thing this morning. How about instead I worry about the simple fact a good man is gone and the day has nothing to do with it? Maybe it struck me weird because I, an outsider thought Brian was an amazingly intelligent man, one of the kindest I have ever had the honor of knowing and to not be here for his family to revere just hit me weird. I always looked forward to seeing him at family functions because the conversation was always intriguing. He had done so many things few of us ever dream of doing. But most of all he was an explorer. To me that is what living life is about. We as human beings never truly explore beyond our little circle or comfort zone. I am speaking of not just what is beyond the horizon but within ourselves as well? Always talking a good game there are very few who actually follow through. Brian was one of those people who actually followed through. His presence within our family will be greatly missed and my heart aches for Jacy’s dad, Brian’s brother. Blair has lost his mom and now his brother all within a relatively short time. The void must be huge, the struggle within very tough.
I wish I could say I cannot imagine what his family is going through but I can and I am sure today, a holiday dedicated to fathers will feel empty at best.
This week for me was spent surrounded by kids, families and friends. Rodeo is an amazing collection of hard working people all trying their very best to survive while providing for their children. Family is always at the heart of this sport and it has always drawn me to it since I was a kid. Stands filled with cheering parents. Animals treated with love, better than many people treat themselves all working just as hard to perform. Kids not just competing against other kids but helping their competitors as well! It doesn’t matter what district you are from in this state it is not uncommon for kids from those competing districts to be helping others. They come here as competitors/rivals but leave here friends. District one rider needs a horse because theirs is hurt, no problem as District 8 lets them borrow one. District 5 needs a saddle? District three to the rescue! Don’t even get me started about the rough stock! It doesn’t matter what district you are from everyone is on deck supporting, helping and ensuring that not one competitor isn’t taken care of before they nod their head, signaling to open the gate! There are roughly 300 kids, the best in their events from across the state with parents who should be proud of not only what their kids have accomplished but what they as parents have accomplished as well.
So today on Father’s day since my father is no longer here to say thank you. I am going to go a different direction. Inspired by a week surrounded by children and family, a week filled with victory and loss, a week ending with my own family’s tragic sorrow.
I am going to say this;
Thank you to all the fathers who inspire children across this great nation, those who stand tall choking back tears during successes and failures of not only their own kids but others as well and doing so proudly while lighting the way for others to see. Every father who knows exactly when to say the right thing at the most inopportune time, creating those perfect building blocks for a child to use as a foundation for future success. Thank you to all the dads who understand the importance of putting their own dreams aside so children and again not just their own may flourish. Those dads who know being a father isn’t just about raising your own kid but holding a positive influence over every child who crosses your path. The world can only evolve if we love each other equally, help each other selflessly and not just focus on what is ours.
To the dads who become fathers to those who don’t have one any more. Who remember the importance a parental figure plays in a child’s life. Especially a child who is alone. To all the dads who were a father to me when mine wasn’t around. The ones who ripped my ass when I needed it without fear of reprisal from my own dad. My dad believed it took a village and if I was caught doing something wrong then by all means let me have it!! It is the same way I parent today and if someone doesn’t like it they can take it up with me in private. I am a very good listener.
Today is also important as I reflect on not just how special I believe my own children to be but all the kids I have had the privilege of parenting in some small way or another. I think of all of you all the time. I am thankful for this crazy social media thingy called Facebook because I can see your smiling faces, watch you all continue to grow as adults, friends, family members and even parents of your own. You all make me so proud (and you know who you are) my door is always open, there will always be a seat at my dinner table for you and an ear to listen if you ever need any help.
I think about my own kids on this day. How lucky I am to have four very different individuals living under this old farm house roof. They all drive me crazy at times, and leave me exhausted but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To Cody, Jake, Jessica and Parker; Thanks for being my kids, allowing me to be your dad. Thank you for filling my life with memories, joys, laughter, and experiences that could never be replaced. But most of all on this Father’s day, a day where I cannot hug my dad and say thank you. Thank you for filling my life with love. I love you all so very much!!
I’m going to close out today with a simple request from all of you.
There are some who are hurting today because their father is no longer around. Reach out to them and let them know you care. There are those who you as a father or male figure have had an influence upon in your life. Drop them a note to say hello. There are some children out there who may need you as an extra fatherly figure in their life to help them along the way. Reach out to them. There are many who maybe don’t need you in a parental manner, but as a strong male figure they can trust. Step forward and make it happen. We all lead busy lives, and excuses are easy to come by, but I ask the simple question; if not you then who?
But most of all be thankful God helped create those children you have, who love you more than anything in this world. Remain the very best father you can be, you are going to screw up, make gigantic mistakes trust me! I am the KING of mistakes!!!! Just own them, apologize when needed, stand tall and do the very best job you can do.
The rewards are amazing.
Oh and Happy Father’s Day……