In my hometown, my dad was part of a coffee group. It was made up of men from this small town who met, I’m sure, to solve the world’s problems. The coffee klatch included our neighbor who was a lawyer. After a rain, my dad would sneak over and put a bit of water in his rain gauge. At coffee, our neighbor would boast about how much rain he had, always a bit more than everyone else.
A friend of mine was bragging that his dad was a Sergeant in the Army. I told my friend my dad was a General. Interesting, since my dad never served in the military. From that time on, whenever the two dads would meet, they’d address each other as Sarge and General.
I remember my dad playing basketball or catch with me at the right time. It’s something that helped me as a parent of boys, who are often more willing to talk or open up if doing something together. I still seek his perspective on issues or ideas.
At 85, my dad finally retired from teaching at a small university. He taught there for twenty years, after he retired from formal ministry. This past year he mentored a middle school confirmation student and we found out they would occasionally meet in a treehouse. At 85 years old.
I’m part of a men’s Bible Study that has met for almost three years. This year we went through a process of developing a spiritual biography that tracked the influences on our lives and what brought us to the church. We then shared our biographies in our small group.
Fully 80% of the guys in this study had lost their dad or had a dysfunctional dad. It blew me away. They didn’t have a dad that put water in rain gauges, played catch, talked about matters or modeled being connected, not even someone you could make a high ranking officer.
It has made me aware that our experience is not someone else’s experience. It has made me more aware that Father’s Day (or Mother’s Day or name a holiday) can be more painful than a celebration. It has made me thankful for people who find their way through bumps in the road. It has made me aware that we all have influence on one another’s lives.