I’m up early on this Father’s Day. The house is quiet with sleep and the rising sun is starting to cast sharp shadows in my back yard. It is peaceful.
In a matter of minutes, my son will likely rise and be exited to begin our day together, a day that will see a range of activities from fishing to laser tag. My thoughts in this quiet moment, however, fall not on my own experience of fatherhood, but rather on memories of my father.
This is my second Father’s Day without dad. While I think about him every day, certain days are harder than others. Birthdays and holidays are persistent reminders, but today — a day dedicated to the special love of a father — has come to be the hardest for me.
My dad was the kind of guy who would do anything for a friend or member of the family. He was so funny and playful, and had a good time no matter what he was doing. He was a random gift-giver, some amazing and impactful (my first guitar at the age of eight) and others slightly missing the mark (Christmas 1995: the frilly pirate shirt).
Dad was always looking to help. He would spend hours at the drop of a hat helping me fix something in my house or teaching me a useful skill that would get me out of a jam down the road. He built crazy things — lo-fi inventions — that served a purpose no commercial product could provide. He was a life hacker before there were life hackers.
My father also taught me about honesty and respect. He showed me through his actions the importance of hard work and always telling the truth, even if the truth was unpopular. Later in life, we fell on oposite sides of the political spectrum and our debates taught me how to have spirited conversations with the people who don’t agree.
He was able to singularly occupy that unique space of teacher, mentor and friend.
Dad was on-of-a-kind. And while he is dearly missed, I’ll take this day to reflect on these fond thoughts of my time with him. I’ll tell my son all about him and share some of my favorite memories.
Even though he’s gone, dad still guides me. When I find myself in uncertain situations I catch myself thinking, “What would dad do?”
That eternal guidance is the trait of someone special. Knowing this, I will continue to push forward (that’s what he would do) and work tirelessly toward becoming half the man he was.