I don’t hide the fact that I was a very difficult child and even more difficult teenager. I was stupid, disrespectful, arrogant, and deceitful. Perhaps most teenagers are these things, but a vice multiplied by the world over doesn’t make it any less a vice. During that time my relationship with my parents was stormy at best. My relationship with my dad was probably rockier due to no fault of his own, but the fact that he was the disciplinarian and I was the rebellious son. I am afraid to ask how much frustration and anguish I caused him every time he came home from a long day of work and discovered once again I was disrespecting his wife all the while sucking up the fruits of his labor. I know I would have been deeply frustrated. After I left for college, my relationship with my parents improved, significantly. Though the relationship was still damaged, and I still had a lot of growing to do. I still remember the night when I fully realized what a horrible son I had been. Out of the house as a mostly independent young man trying to find his course in life, my respect and love for my dad has grown signficantly. I am deeply thankful that I have a father like him in my life. In a time when too many father-son relationships are broken beyond repair or simply non-existent, I am truly blessed to have what I have. I count my blessings.
Dad taught my brothers and me many things and led us by an example we probably didn’t appreciate until we got out on our own. It may sound hackneyed to say it — but it is very true — Dad taught us discipline, the value of hard work, and the value of a good education. That list seems so dull and trite, but they are such necessary virtues to do well in society and be able to support a family of my own some day. Those were the virtues he pounded into our thick little skulls. Those were the easy ones to identify and learn. However, there are many sublter ones that I did not appreciate until much later. One of them I think is the lesson to enjoy life and it’s okay to enjoy the fruits of my labor. There’s no shame in earning a comfortable living and spending some of that to enjoy what has been given to me. Of course, this should be done in moderation . . . a lesson I’m still learning. Another virtue I have learned from my father is charity and generosity. Dad gives to others freely and gives to his family freely as well. He could be miserly and manipulative with what he has, but he isn’t. I know that I and many many others have had a much richer life because of that. Probably the most important lesson I’ve learned from my father is his love for his wife. He cherishes his wife, and it shows, sometimes embarrassingly so. He constantly reminded us boys about the virtues of our mom, most notably her cooking, something I appreciate a lot as a non-cooking, poorly fed bachelor. If I am ever married, I hope I can be the kind of husband my dad is.
So, this is for my father. Thanks, Dad, for helping me, sometimes forcing me, to become the man I am today. Thank you for being generous, kind, tough, hard-working, a loving father, and a devoted husband. Thank you for sticking around and seeing us through adulthood. I know I have not been the best son, and I hope you will forgive me for that. I also hope I can be a source of pride for you now and for many years to come.