I wrote this post three years ago, and I never published it. I don’t know why, so here it is:
My mother recently came to see me because she wanted to speak with me about the death of my father. For those of you who do not know, my father died in May of 2005. It was one of the worst days of my life. Even though I knew at the time that his passing would affect me, I had no idea that nearly 2 years later the wounds would still be so fresh. That was the reason my mother was here to see me. Mothers seem to sense these things.
Dealing with life and death issues as often as I do, I really felt like I knew what was coming when I learned of his passing. I was wrong.
Like any boy, I loved my father. A boy’s love for his father is not the affection you show for a lover, nor is it even remotely like the love of a mother for her children. You see, boys have a need to seek the approval of their fathers. They are driven by an overwhelming need to grow into even a fraction of the man that they perceive their fathers to be. Most of all, they want to earn the respect of their Dad.
I fought in a war. I gave him grandchildren. I became the first person in my family tree to graduate from college. I have delivered babies, I have held others as the life slipped from their bodies. I have pulled dying people out of burning buildings, I jumped in a lake to save a drowning man from an alligator. When my dad had a heart attack, I was the medic who worked on him. I have filled sandbags in Missouri to save flooding homes, sifted through ruined homes looking for the dead in disasters, and fed the survivors. All of these things I did, trying to be half the man I perceived him to be. I began to teach classes on medical procedures, hoping to teach the next generation of providers. Again, for him.
Then, he was gone. I carried him to his grave, and since that time, I have carried my grief around in my heart like a lead weight, and at times it has been nearly overpowering. I asked myself countless times if I measured up.
This morning, my son came to me with 2 movie tickets and asked me if I wanted to go out with him. We spent the afternoon with each other. I am proud of my son, as he starts his new job on Monday as a firefighter. As I looked at him on the way home, I realized that my son was trying to be larger than life.
Just like his Dad.
I finally did it Dad, I am just like you.
and to you, son: You have indeed earned my respect. You have fulfilled every expectation and dream that any father has a right to hope for his son.