Here’s the scenario:
If you could turn back the clock and spend one last day with your father, what would you do? If your dad is still living, what would be the ideal way to enjoy his company?
Father’s Day, which is this coming Sunday, doesn’t receive nearly the same degree of attention as Mother’s Day. Nevertheless, millions of dads will still be hailed as heroes, and rightly so.
Not everyone has a happy story or good memories of their upbringing. My own situation was less than ideal. My father broke promises with regularity and eventually broke my heart, too. But I have chosen to forgive him, choosing instead to remember one particularly glorious day by his side.
It was Saturday June 23, 1973. That was the day he took me to a doubleheader at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles lost the first game against the Cincinnati Reds, 4-1. Tommy John threw a complete game in the nightcap though, and we went home with a 5-1 victory.
That I remember so vividly two games that nearly everyone forgets, including those who played them, I believe, is a testament to the power of a dad in a child’s life. All I wanted was to be “normal” – to be like all the kids who had a dad holding their hand.
It rarely happened, but on June 23rd it did, and so it’s seared in my memory. A golden day frozen in time.
Last week I shared about a touching story which was penned by John Strege, a friend and writer for Golf Digest. In case you missed it, I’m going to share it here again because it connects perfectly with this topic. But before I let you go, I’d be interested to know how you would respond to my initial question:
If you had the power to visit one more day with your dad, what would you say? What would you do?
A Dying Father, a Grateful Son
It began as a dream, a boy, 16, and his father, descending the steps behind The Lodge at Pebble Beach and gazing wistfully at Eden. Some day, the boy vowed on behalf of both of them, before life intervened, as inevitably it will. Maybe next year. There would always be a next year.
As John goes on to explain, it was the boy’s desire to one day play a round of golf with his dad on the famed California coastal course. But the boy and his father grew busy and the years piled up one after another. A decade removed from that gentle time on those storied steps, Tim Galloway was diagnosed with cancer. His son, Winn, vowed to make good on his dream and make a memory with his father. He made the arrangements even as his dear dad grew weaker by the day.
Tim was worried, though, concerned that he wouldn’t have the stamina to make it through the round. Again, from John’s article:
Tim’s wife (and Winn’s mother), Kim, convinced him that the quality of his golf was immaterial. “You taught him how to do something you’ve shared your whole life,” she said to him. “So change your focus from golf to hanging out with your son at a place that’s once in a lifetime. Make golf secondary.”
Kim’s words proved prescient. Tim and Winn played their hearts out and like something straight out of a Hollywood screen play, the round was punctuated by Tim’s hole-in-one on the scenic par-3 seventh hole.
Six months later Winn’s father was gone, but the memories of those hours together, playing a sport they both loved, have helped to soften the blow.
Winn is a now a young man with no regrets. He is a man at peace even amidst his sad loss. Not everybody enjoys the luxury of such a storybook ending, however painful. My own father’s passing still saddens me and I so wish that alcoholism hadn’t stolen him away from me. I wish I could lean on what Winn now does.
When it comes to planning activities with our kids, we’re all busy and we all tend to put things off to another day. But there are times when that day never comes – at least for one of us.
Don’t take a chance. Don’t risk putting off for tomorrow what you might do with your children today.
Maybe it’s time for you to live with a spirit and sense of urgency. Father’s Day is coming next week and warm sentiments will be expressed in cards, email and over the telephone. But this year, maybe it’s time to take it to the next level.
Don’t just talk. Don’t just write. If at all possible, take the effort to make a memory. I guarantee that you won’t regret it.