Each year, on the second Sunday of June, fathers throughout the country wake up with high expectations.
Whether the day is filled with sunshine or drenched with rain, the anticipation that overcomes dad across the globe is highly noticeable on this day.
I can recall when my daughter turned 2 and I had just returned home from a tour in Korea. It was my first Father’s Day and I was looking forward to being able to celebrate the day with other members of this noble fraternity, in which most of them had years of seniority over me. There were uncles, grandfathers, cousins, and even my brother, whose daughter was born 11 months before my own.
Finally, I would know what if feels like, to be a father on Father’s Day.
I woke up after getting little sleep the night before. My eyes burning from anticipation, or more than likely, a lack of sleep. I remember waiting for breakfast in bed, because that’s what happens on Father’s Day. I know this because it’s what happens on TV. Think about it, all of the good husbands receive breakfast in bed on Father’s Day, including Bill Cosby, George Jefferson, the father from Family Ties and the ever popular, Bernie Mac.
I remember waking up at around 7:30 a.m. and hearing my then-wife in the kitchen, rattling pots and pans.
“Wow,” I thought, “She’s already on it. In the kitchen early on a Sunday morning, just to make breakfast for me. I have got to be the luckiest guy in the world today. I finally get to realize what it means to be a father on Father’s Day.”
One hour went by and I waited … two hours … still no breakfast.
Instead of facing the reality that was slowly starting to creep into the annuls of my brain, I chose to use denial as a soothing form of medicine.
“She’s probably cooking pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and orange juice. She knows how much I like that!”
Finally, at 10 a.m., I decided to go downstairs and investigate why it was taking my breakfast so long to reach the bedroom. Like a thief in the night, I quietly opened the bedroom door, tipped into the hallway and peered downstairs — only to feel my pajama pants being pulled from behind.
I quickly turned around to find my daughter standing next to me with a look on her face as if she wondered why we were staring downstairs.
… So much for sneaking. I picked her up and we both went downstairs to find my wife and her mother sitting on the sofa watching TV.
No food, no pots and pans, no pancakes, bacon or orange juice. Just a lady and a TV.
Never one to complain, I said good morning, walked toward the kitchen and was greeted by a smell that reminded me that I had forgotten to empty last night’s trash. (Mental note: you cannot leave Maryland soft shell crabs in the trash can overnight.)
I quickly disposed of the trash and went back upstairs. My spirits had been dampened, but not broken. Being the optimist that I am, I quickly regrouped and came up with a better solution as to how we would celebrate Father’s Day — by going out to dinner. My treat, of course.
As we traveled down U.S. Highway 1, or Jefferson Davis Highway, as it’s called in Alexandria, Va., there, was no mention of Father’s Day, or anything else for that matter. As for me, I was just happy to enjoy a meal on this “special” day.
However, my day was transformed by the words of a passing stranger. As she departed the restaurant and passed our vehicle en route to her Family’s, she clearly spoke three words that would define the day — “Happy Father’s Day!”
“Thank you,” I replied with a smile on my face as wide as Texas.
That was all I wanted for Father’s Day — acknowledgement. I didn’t need a bad necktie, no cheap watches, no color TVs. I only wanted to be acknowledged.
Afterwards, my wife said, oh, Happy Father’s Day, I almost forgot!”
“You did forget, but oh well, I’ll take it. After all, it is acknowledgement,” I thought to myself.
To everyone who will celebrate Father’s Day with your father, please share the gifts of appreciation and acknowledgement with him. If my dad were still living, I would do just that.
Happy Father’s Day.