Unlike me, you shouldn't wait until Father's Day to tell your dad a few things. You see, my father passed away a few months ago. I'll be telling him things this Father's Day, just like I do everyday, because I talk to him more now than when we could speak face-to-face.
Men, in general, don't air out their thoughts and feelings. I'm one that fit into that "general" category, especially when it came to conversations with my dad. I often opted for the non-verbal, or semi-verbal, cues, never really expressing anything meaningful.
Now that dad is gone, I see how woefully inadequate my approach was. I don't know whether telling him a few things like the ones below would have made things better, worse, or somewhere in between, relative to each thing. I have a suspicion that, regardless of the outcome, both myself and my father would have been closer for it, in the end.
The #1 thing on my Top-5 list is "I love you," but I'm not going to list it, because my dad made sure we always told each other that. I'll go with numbers 2 through 6 on the top-5, so consider #1 a bonus. Here goes:
2. Thank you - Thank you for doing the best job and being the best father you could possibly be. Even when we had our problems and life was terribly difficult, I always felt what you told me was the rock-solid truth. I can't imagine a better thing than that type of confidence. Also, thank you for showing me how to be a dad.
3. I'm sorry - I'm sorry for being the kid that thought he was better than others, though you taught me otherwise. I'm sorry for the lazy teenage years. I'm sorry for all the years as an adult that I didn't come around often enough to just talk and to let you see your granddaughters more often. They have a teddy bear they've named "Grandpa Bear," which looks remarkably like you, that they hug and kiss goodnight, every night.
4. I forgive you - I only say this because I know you felt badly about some things and I wasted a lot of years not forgiving you. We all do the best we can at any given moment, so looking back at the tough times, and being a father now, with all the stresses and strains of fatherhood and manhood, I see how difficult things were for you. I only wish I could have seen it all sooner and let you know that I understood.
5. I miss you - We all knew the time was approaching when you wouldn't be around, but nothing could have prepared me for losing you. I know, beyond all doubt, that we'll be together again, but your absence has been something I never expected. My earthly guiding hand is no longer there.
6. You've left a lasting legacy - In the later years of your life, you weren't able to do the things you had hoped and felt like what you were leaving behind for us wasn't enough. To the contrary, in your later years, you provided us with a picture of what a real man can be: strong, happy, a blessing to others, loving and faithful, even in the midst of illness. All the things that made up your life will be maximized and passed on to your grandchildren and the world, which will all be better for it, I'll see to that.
There you have it, my top-6. I hope you'll take this list, add and remove things as they fit your situation, and go tell your dad everything.
I think I'll take this post to my father on Father's Day and read it to him. It's the best I can do, now.
We'd all like to hear at least one thing, maybe even your top-five (or 20) list of things you'll say to your dad BEFORE Father's Day. Let us know in the comments.