Dads deserve their due

Published 9:14 pm Thursday, June 23, 2011

I didn’t grow up in the same household with my father. My parents divorced when I was 3, and my mother moved us from Maryland to North Carolina. Being so young when they separated, I can honestly say I didn’t know much about my father growing up.

He was just the man who was always working and would come get us during the summers to stay with him in Maryland. Even then, we barely saw him because, after all, he was working.

I guess it’s no easy task to have to work behind the scenes as a father. By that, I mean he did what was required of him to make sure we had what we needed. But he never got — or to this very day, asked for — the acknowledgment my mother received in raising their children. After all, it was my mother who had to deal with the day-to-day grind of raising their three growing boys.

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There was a point in my life, when I had grown old enough to understand the sacrifices my mother made to keep us all fed, clothed, and sheltered, that I thought my father got off easy in the whole child-rearing process. I’ve never been the kind of person to hold grudges, but I could see that my brothers, possibly seeing the same things that I saw, began to resent my father a little.

By the time I hit adulthood, I started to realize that my father and I had grown into very different men. So much so, that there was a point in our lives where we hadn’t spoken at length for more than five years. I can’t even remember why. We just didn’t.

Then, a couple of years ago, after that silence was somehow broken, my father said something to me as we were loading up his boat to go fishing during one of my vacations.

“I hope you boys don’t hate me,” he said. “It’s not like I didn’t want to be there for you growing up. Your mother and I had our problems. And I had to do what I had to do to make sure you had everything you needed.”

In that statement, my father taught me a lot about life. He made me understand that we don’t always get what we want in life, we don’t always get what we need, we get what we get. And we can choose to handle that poorly or do the best we can with what we get. Though it was tough at times growing up without him in the house, I’m eternally grateful for him teaching me that lesson and for the sacrifices he made behind the scenes.

Now, as my father approaches his retirement in December, I want to thank him for doing what he had to do to raise his sons from afar. I know it was not easy.

I also want to thank him for taking all the heat and harsh words and still be the man who calls me regularly to check on my blood sugar and make sure I’m not working myself to death.

So I’m glad that places like Y2K Academy acknowledge exceptional fathers. There are still some very deserving dads out there doing what they have to do and probably never getting the credit they deserve.

And, Pop, I hope this column makes up for forgetting to call you on Father’s Day. Blame Samantha for not reminding me.