My dad was surprised this weekend when his four kids from four different states gave him an unexpected 75th birthday party. We rented the Hardeman House on the campus of Freed-Hardeman University where dad used to work (this was the home of the founder and former president of the university and is rented out for occasions like this). We gathered with our families and a few close friends. One brother from Montana arrived a day earlier and let dad know he was in the area "on business" (sometimes he really is). This brother then lured him to the house where were assembled.
Since dad lives in Tennessee and his kids live in Alabama, Texas, Kansas and Montana, we don’t all get together as often as we like. Sadly, like many families today who are scattered to distant places, weddings and funerals are the primary catalysts for extended family gatherings. But, other occasions can serve this purpose as well, including birthdays.
Last summer I was surprised by my wife and church family for my 50th birthday. The surprise certainly added to the joy of the occasion, but the real joy was the sense of care I felt from everyone present.
This column is about being a father. But for this post I’d like to make it about honoring a father.
I am a father, so I can tell you some of the good and bad of dads. We can be caring, sensitive and attentive. We can also be self-absorbed, overly competitive and obtuse. Generally, we want the best for our families. We want our wives and kids to feel valued, even if we don’t always know how to function and communicate in a manner that helps them feel that way. We can sometimes feel overwhelmed by our roles as husband and father, so we withdraw. We may become silent or even critical. Frequently we rely upon humor to mask our insecurity. We try to make a joke out of any and everything, even if what we are joking about isn’t funny to anyone else (except another dad :).
Bottom line, even dads need to feel valued and honored. The sense of worth they feel when they are honored helps them feel secure in their position in the family, which encourages healthier functioning on their part. Warts and all, a dad giving any effort at all to being a decent husband and father needs that occasional day when he feels recognized for the good he has tried to do.
I received that last August 1. My dad received it this past Saturday. I hope the husband/father in your life gets a special day to revel in his role as the special guy in his family’s life.