Father’s Day gift for the man who has everything
“Socks or underwear, maybe a nice tie.”
That was the answer I got when I didn’t have all my adult teeth, when I’d ask, “Dad, what would you like for Father’s Day?”
I went along with the answer to what I thought was my sneaky question and usually got my hero socks or underwear or maybe a nice clip-on tie.
I recall thinking, “What a crappy gift to want for your big day! Oh well, he’s special and I don’t want to get him something he doesn’t like.”
“I’m gonna be like you, Dad. You know I’m gonna be like you.”
It took me years to figure out why he wanted those things, and that what he really wanted he already had: the woman of his dreams and a family.
Back then, I learned so many lessons through unconditional love and unspoken words.
Things like curfews: “Dad/Mom, everyone gets to stay out after midnight!”
Events or places: “Mom/Dad everybody will be there! Why can’t I go?”
And things: “Why can’t we have that?”
Many times, I didn’t want to know what my parents thought was right for me. Time and again, I went stomping off in frustration through my tweens and teens thinking, “You guys are so old-fashioned!”
“What I’d really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys. See you later, can I have them please?”
Answers. They don’t always come when we want them. Even we think we have the answers, they can change or be selfishly misunderstood. Their meaning can come years later.
I am pretty sure that I’m not the only dad who’s had conversations with God during that period of time, “BC” — Before Children. I prayed fervently for a healthy pregnancy for my wife, a healthy delivery and child. I made promises with
My kids know that no matter when Harry Chapin’s song “Cat’s in the Cradle” comes on, I stop and listen. It is my anti-song since my children were born. I try not to be like the dad in the song. You may have recognized the italicized lyrics here.
The song’s narrator is a father, who after his son’s birth is repeatedly unable to spend time with him due to his job. Despite his son looking up to him and saying he will grow up to be just like his father. After years of not being able to “find the time,” the son indeed grows up to be just like the father.
In 1989, my girlfriend (now wife) and I went to the movie “Field of Dreams.” I remember thinking, “What a great baseball movie!” I love that movie and it’s iconic quote from Terrence Mann telling Ray Kinsella, “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.”
Years later, on a Father’s Day weekend, my 14-year-old son and I went to Dyersville to “have a catch” at the “25th Anniversary of Field of Dreams Reunion.” Later in the evening, we watched the movie sitting on the right field grass about “a bunt single” in front of Kevin Costner and his family.
We experienced the
real meaning of that movie. It is a wonderful consanguinity of father and son/daughter which happens to have baseball in it. Now, I love that movie for a whole different reason.
Recently, I read an unfeigned Instagram post from “greatestshowondirt.” The writer tied in his love for baseball with memories from yesteryear and the impact of dad and grandpa on his life.
Nothing lasts forever. And good times go away. But there’s a beauty in these times disappearing. It allows us to truly appreciate them, which I believe allows us to live with more purpose today.
To think I could be to someone else what my dad and grandpa were to me. I could one day be the old guy watching baseball with his grandkids. I could be the guy with the dirty old truck who works 12-hour days and comes home and plays catch with his son and daughter. I would never know the joys of this if I didn’t once experience it and lose it.
I’m OK with nothing good lasting forever. I’m OK with never watching a game with grandpa again. And I’m OK with never playing catch with my dad in the backyard again. Because I can see now, and know I can pass that same feeling along to someone else. Because it’s perfect and we need to share it.
“My son turned 10 just the other day. He said, thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play.”
It’s so simple. It was never about my parents on Father’s or Mother’s Day. Their happiness was their family.
I understand lessons lived and learned. Curfews set. Events not attended. Things not purchased. All of this because of love not necessarily being on time. The meaning came later.
There will come a day when I can’t physically be here to be Dad. Many of you have lost your dad, but I sure hope you have your dad with you every day in lesson, example and spirit — even those times that you may have learned how “not” to parent. Nobody said they were perfect.
As it turns out, I’ve lived my life opposite of the father that Harry Chapin sang about. I’m lucky enough to have lived like my dad. I have the woman of my dreams and three children.
Like my father, I wanted to be “Dad,” and I want what’s best for my children. I don’t need to be the World’s Greatest Dad. I just need to be the greatest dad to my kids.
All their lives, my children know that I only wanted a homemade card for a Father’s Day gift. I still have them all. My Father’s Day gift never came on Father’s Day. It is not a present I can unwrap. I don’t want Hallmark to tell me in so many words.
Instead, the gift came with each of my children’s births. Something the creator blessed to Sandy and I. Prayers answered.
This Father’s Day, please count your blessings. Be thankful for all forms of father figures. Also, as the father you are and have yet to be. Whether or not they are here today, remember father figures in lesson, example, and spirit.
And kids, bring me a homemade card.
“But we will get together then. You know we’ll have a good time then.”
Socks and underwear, I have a dresser drawer full of them. Every time I look in there, I realize I have a lifetime of memories for what they really mean. Thanks Dad. Turns out they weren’t a crappy gift after all.
Dean Brinkman is a chiropractor in Sleepy Eye who fills in for Randy Krzmarzick’s “Weeds” column during
planting & harvest season.