Make Everyday Father's Day!

author : Michael
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By Michael Pate

With a title of an article like that, I’m sure that several ladies entered the portal of this article with a little bit of an attitude and are ready to start throwing rocks at this Clydesdale. Just give me a chance before you cast your first stone.

I want to share with you an experience that I will never forget. I got a phone call late one evening from my parents and they broke the news to me that my father had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. My dad was a strong man who had always worked very hard. He was, among other things, an accomplished carpenter and was well-known for his beautiful work. When I was in high school, he was diagnosed with cancer and not expected to live. Through a miracle of faith and modern medicine, he survived his cancer experience and had gone on to continue to work and do what he loved. To hear that he was now ill with yet another disease, this one virtually untreatable, was devastating to all of us.

As time progressed, so did the disease. He went from being a man that could build a building with only the plans in his mind to being a man who couldn’t tell you what was on a dinner plate in front of him. Over time our roles were reversed. I took the role of parent and he became the child. It was incredibly difficult.

Finally, we arrived on a spring morning that will forever be locked in my mind. I received a call from my mother early one morning and she informed me that my father was really not doing well and I needed to make the two-hour road trip home. Without hesitation, I made that trip and when I walked into his room, I knew that we were close to the end. His body had become very frail, and atrophy had set up in his muscles, as he had been bedridden for several weeks. His breathing was shallow and labored and I had decided for our family that we would not take any measures to prolong the inevitable. Even though the Dad that I had known had not been present mentally for several years, I still was not ready for him to die. I sat with my Mother at his bedside as his body began to draw into a fetal position and I remember telling my Mother in a shaky and tearful voice that “He’s going….He’s leaving us.” At that very moment, I was wishing that I could just have some of the past back so I could just spend a few more minutes here and there with him, or maybe just learn just a little bit more from this man, but all I could do was hold him and tell him that I loved him.

There is one thing that I learned from that experience: you can’t go back and retrieve lost time. So I try to live every day as a father with no regrets.

We as a group of athletes are very goal-driven and achievement-oriented people. We are that way at work and we are that way in training and racing. Many times we can get so focused on what our goals are and achieving them, that we sacrifice things in order to reach those goals. Have you sacrificed your nine to five by focusing too much on your training? Have you ignored your spouse and chalked it up to “They’ll understand”? Have you skipped your daughter’s dance recital or your kid’s soccer game with the thought that there will be another dance recital or another soccer game that you can attend?

Although we typically celebrate Father’s Day as a time when our kids let us know how much they love and appreciate us, stop and take a little time to think about the other 364 days that could be Father’s Day for you. As fathers, we have been given the most precious gifts in the world in our children and we can’t take that lightly. Think about what your father did for you, the ideals that he instilled in you. Maybe your father didn’t take the time to invest in your future and now you know that you need to do things differently with your kids.

Is taking five minutes off your swim time really a better investment in your future than spending five minutes curled up with your son reading a bedtime story? Yes, we have to train. Yes, we have goals that we should reach for. But it’s always a good idea to do a little self-evaluation and make sure your priorities are in the right order.

Your job is to invest in the future! My dad invested in my future by helping me to have an environment that allowed me to grow and develop skills that have made me the person that I am today. He built my confidence and showed me that I could do anything that I set my mind to. He showed me that even when I made a bad decision.  Sure, he was disappointed in me, but he still loved me. He was a carpenter by trade, but he knew that his first priority was in building a family.

So if you are a dad and you are reading this, I am making a challenge to you. Stop and take a second to analyze the relationship that you have with your child or children. Does he or she resent the fact that they are last on your list or do they feel like they are a very important part of your life? Maybe it’s time to give up some of your time or rearrange your schedule to make this investment in their future.

In March of this year, thirty minutes before the cutoff time for tee ball registration, my five-year-old son decided that he wanted to play. What did this mean for me? Pre-season tournaments, practice twice a week, and games a couple times a week. Did this alter my training and race schedule? You better believe it. I will be the first to admit that I have given up some of my training time, but I have invested much more than I have lost in the relationship that I am building with my son.

If you’re watching a tee ball game, and you hear a little blonde-headed boy in the outfield shout at the top of his lungs “Daddy, I love you!” that’s just the sound of me getting a little return on my investment.

He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
Clarence Budington Kelland


Copyright 2006 When Big Boys Tri

 

 

 

 

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date: June 5, 2006

Author


Michael

God, Family, Training and Writing