Happy Father’s Day

I wish my Dad was still here for me to say that to him. But he’s not, and has been gone almost two years now, and so the best I can do is to remember him today.

When I picture him in my mind, I see him smiling and laughing, because he did that more than just about anybody I ever met. It was his defining characteristic, and anybody who ever knew him would probably agree.

I could use some smiling and laughing right about now, for a whole bunch of reasons. I could also use a little more faith, because mine is being tested now in ways I’d never imagined. Today’s sermon at church was about worrying, and what a waste of time and energy it is. And when you really break it down, intellectually and rationally, of course that is so true.

The trouble starts when we see ourselves painted into corners that we don’t fully understand how to get out of. So we worry as a way to exert control over events beyond our control. Worrying causes bad stuff to happen in our bodies; it physically changes your body chemistry for the worse, which adds a whole new layer of stress over whatever was already going on. It is just about the worst thing you could do.

I’m not sure how much time my Dad spent worrying about anything. He was very sensible about a lot of things in life, except for the appetites that ultimately proved his undoing. He always liked the saying “que sera, sera”, which apparently means “whatever will be, will be”. Hard to argue with that.

So if he were here today, I’d tell him that I miss him, and I miss the feeling that he was as close as a phone call away, and that I admired his more “happy go lucky” ways, an attitude that I’m not quite as naturally tuned into, for whatever reason. And that I loved him, despite the distance that developed between us in the latter years. I mistook the side effects of clinical depression for emotional distance, and didn’t stop to think that maybe he needed me sometimes, too. And for that I’m deeply sorry; it is a debt I can never repay to you, Dad.

But I try not to dwell on that. I have three kids of my own, and they need me, at various times and in differing amounts. So the best thing I can do — the only thing I can do, really — is to be the best Dad for them that I possibly can.

So today, I think that’s what I’ll try to do. And tomorrow, it will be time to do that again. And with the help of my wife, and our kids, and our families and friends, and God, and a little luck, and a lot of patience with myself and others, I hope and pray that I can not mangle it up too bad.

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1 comment
  1. Mike said:

    Happy Father’s Day, JBrokaw.

    I’ve always seen worries and anxieties as the mind’s subconscious attempt to control the future. You’ll notice, you rarely worry about anything from the past or the present… but only about the future and how past or present events might effect the future. We’re one of the few species with an awareness of time, however limited our understanding of it is. Sometimes, with worries, I think it helps to simply realize how everything’s fine in the present and to try and stay there.

    Just thought I’d share that for what it’s worth. I’m certainly no zen master.