Daddy I Understand
By: Joseph Lewis III
I was a young teenage boy just turning the ripe age of fifth teen. Daddy determined that it was time for him to have that father and son discussion. I recall me sitting there as if i really didn't want to hear what he had to say, but i dared not budge, for to go head to head with my father spelled my doom. With all the respect and love i had for him, i knew more about the world than he did. Dad knew nothing about fashion, he knew nothing of the latest songs, the newest shows. The only thing dad knew was God and work. There were times when i didn't see him for more than fifth teen minutes out of the day. Leaning back in the chair, my father sitting before me, he began to speak. "Son, you are going to become a man soon, and there are things you must understand. With the exception of God, there is nothing more important in life than your family. When the time comes and you are blessed with a wife and children, you must understand that failure is not an option. You are responsible for their lives. As a man, you have a duty to keep food on the table, clothes on their back. and a roof over the heads. A real man would die before he allowed his family to be harmed. A man that truly loves his family is not forced to do these things, he wares the responsibility with pride. He understands the role ahead may be tough, but our willingness to face it defines our manhood. Now understand this, a long time ago our Father in Heaven sent his son to die that we may live. The ultimate sacrifice. Yet as his children how do we show our gratitude? Do we live as he instructs us to? Do we honor him with love? No son we don't. Being a father is not much different. The truth of the matter is, all the love, care and "thank you's" are given to mothers. Fathers are shown some gratitude, but it will never equal that which is shown to a mother. It doesn't mean that children don't care, it's just way it is. There will be times when your kids will not listen to your advice. Times when they will choose the wrong path. There will be moments when you will fill that all your hard work has been a waste. Other times your children will do things that will nearly bring you to tears. They will achieve things that you dreamed. These moments are the moments that make you understand why you sacrificed. Those moments will stand in the place of your thank you's." As dad concluded, i tried to visualize my future. I imagined just how perfect my life would be and how i would be such a wonderful father.
The years went by, and at the age of 18 i was honored with a chance to take a college scholarship. As my dad and i walked across the college campus, i saw my "thank you" written across my fathers face. He had seen me to my destination, his mission was fulfilled. Two weeks later i found out that my girlfriend was pregnant with what was to be my first child. My father came to me and for the first time he begged me to attend college. I never thought of his feelings, it was my life and my decision. I never once thought of his sacrifices. Never considering the dreams he had in-store for me. I joined the U.S... Navy and left thoughts of my father behind.
A year later while visiting home, my father came to me and told me he was moving away. I asked him why? "I have done everything i could for you guys. My kids are grown, your mother and i are divorced. I have tried all my life to do for you guys, and now it's my turn to do for me." I was angry, my father was bailing. I couldn't understand how he could leave us behind. How selfish?
It has been almost twenty years since that day, and my oldest daughter has just turned 19. Every single year since i left high school has been a struggle. The love for my children supplied me with the persistence to fight my way through. Divorced from my wife separated me from my kids at times, but the struggle to provide for them continued. As they voice their plans for college i sit and listen. I wear the the face of "thanks" for my job quickly approaches it's end. Something bothers me. How much do children really appreciate their fathers? How much did i appreciate mine? Have my children ever looked me in the face and told me thank you dad for all that you've done? They haven't. They don't understand the struggle, the sacrifice, all that we willingly gave up to see them to this point. Not ungrateful, but ignorant to life and all it will ask of them. I sit back and watch, i realize i don't need a thank you, their success will be my thanks. With the end so near, i began to plan my future, what i have in-store for myself. Just maybe ill leave, and live for me. If my father were here today, I'd tell him thanks, and with all the sincerity in the world, I'd tell him daddy i understand.
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