The View from the Center

The Best Father's Day Gift I Could Possibly Receive

6/8/2011

On June 2, 2011, I had the incredible honor of induction into the Dads, Inc. Fatherhood Hall of Fame - along with Mickey Maurer, Willis Bright, Marco Dominguez, and Father of the Year Stan Howard (Matt's dad - go Dawgs!) Past inductees include Tony Dungy and Gov. Mitch Daniels. I was utterly shocked at the accolade, but what really moved me was the induction speech delivered by my son, Oliver. The text of that speech follows.
 
When I was nine my father and I took a 2 hour road trip for hockey that was unlike any other, this one was just me and my old man. This was the first real bonding time I can remember with my father. I slept the first half of the trip, I woke up for a fast food breakfast and then we were back on the road. For this half, I asked if we could listen to a favorite of both mine and my father’s: The Ramones. The remainder of the drive we shouted the lyrics to their greatest hits, pausing regularly for brief punk-rock history lessons. On the way home it dawned on me that my father could have been doing anything that Saturday. He was hosting his morning show back then, so every morning he was up around 3am, but instead of catching up on sleep he was with me. This was nowhere near the first time he had put me before everything else, but it was the first time I had noticed. I cracked a joke, and for the first time, I made my father laugh. It wasn’t the way you laugh at little kids for doing something cute, it was a genuine laugh, the kind two old friends would share. This was the first day I saw my father as “Ed.” Not just as my dad, but as my friend.
 
Eight years later, our family went to Italy to celebrate New Years together. One night, my father and I sat together in a café in Rome, we talked the exact same way we had during that drive. Our conversation was much more mature, but our openness and our friendship was there, strong as it had ever been.
 
A few weeks ago, I had some personal complications, I tried taking advice from other young adults who had just as little life experience, I then turned to my Dad. He helped me through everything; it was getting late so we wrapped things up. But after a few hours there was still more left unresolved. I asked if we could talk for a little while longer. Without hesitation he got out of bed to talk with me in the hallway. I felt bad, it was the middle of the week and I interrupted his sleep. I tried apologizing for dragging him from bed when he was on the brink of falling asleep, but he had none of it. He just grinned and said “that’s what I’m here for.”
 
I have had many successes in hockey and in school, but the truth is that I would have had none of it without my father. He never yelled from the stands to hit or skate harder, he left the coaching to the coaches. He didn’t sign me up for a hundred camps or make me play and work out when I didn’t want to. He, instead, showed me how to work. He demonstrated the meaning and payoff of a great work ethic.
 
I am not naturally gifted with athleticism or a great deal of intellect, but I have an almost unmatched work ethic, this I learned from example. He never gave me a speech about the importance of working hard, he showed me. I’ve seen him pour his heart out, working to exhaustion to perfect his show, his writing, and his art work. By his actions I learned what I need to do in order to pursue my dreams. No coach or teacher has ever asked me to work harder, because of what my father taught me.
 
 I realize how fortunate I am to have a strong father figure in my life. I have a father who will sacrifice anything for me. A father who I know I will always have to support me and my dreams and the things I am passionate about. I know when it comes time for me to settle down and raise my own kids, I can only hope that I’ll show them the constant support and love that my father showed me.
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