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Father’s Day / by Randall Broad


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Father’s Day

June 4th, 2013 - by Randall Broad


As June rolls around again this year, I can’t help but be reminded of Father’s Day, especially since we’re bombarded with reminder Tweets, Facebook ads, and of course men’s apparel offerings across the networks. But I’m not going to go off on a tangent on the commercialism of the day; rather, this year I’m starting to realize just how significant Father’s Day is for me. I consider my role as a father to be one of my greatest accomplishments and one that continues to bring me joy and purpose. This year, I finally understand just how extraordinary the gift being a dad truly is.

For the record, my first several years of fatherhood, I paid little attention to the celebration. As one who was flying through life at the speed of sound, most were a blur on the side of the road from the fast lane. In fact during this time, most were plain and simply taken for granted. They seemed at the time a mere reason to have a party, buy gifts, get a card, or simply acknowledge the obvious with little significance nor meaning behind it. I was busy with whatever else to stop long enough to take much notice.

I can’t tell you where this malaise for the date stemmed or how it seemed less important. But for more than a decade of being “Dad,” little acceptance was put forth surrounding the Sunday in June directed towards my responsibility and me.

Oddly, acknowledging my own Dad’s special day always had meaning. I vividly recall one summer when I was seven. We had moved from Seattle to Florida a couple years earlier; my dad had been transferred to Cape Canaveral for an aerospace job. This year however, my mom, sister and I had flown back to Seattle to spend the better part of the summer with my grandparents, thus missing Father’s Day (as well as his birthday). My Dad remained behind to do what dad did and that was providing for his family.

On the flight back to Florida I was so excited I could barely contain myself. Mom informed my sister and I we would be celebrating Dad’s day when we arrived. She needn’t remind nor advise, as we were primed to share our love and appreciation. This had been my first and longest time apart from him since birth.

During the flight, two flight attendants could tell I was wound tight and took me under their wing. They made sure I was well attended to throughout our cross-country trip and saw to it that I had plenty to eat, drink, comic books, and toys to keep me occupied. As we were preparing to depart our four-prop DC 6, one reached in her pocket and pinned a set of United Airlines wings on my lapel. A real honor was bestowed upon me and I felt extra special.

Back then, the only way off a commercial plane was down a wheeled roll away ramp. As I stepped onto the first step and felt the humidity of the Florida night, my eyes locked on my smiling dad stationed below. He in his customary white collared short sleeve shirt, dark rimmed glasses, and black narrow tie, stood like a pillar on the tarmac awaiting my descent. The level of emotion that filled me in that moment can only be described as ginormous. A feeling so strong, my eyes swelled with tears of such joy and happiness, it caught me off guard. I was way too old and a man for heavens sake, how dare I show this weak and fettered side of me. But there was no holding back the onslaught of emotion, which carried me down those steps. I had to find cover and it better be quick. My winged pin, yes, the cruel pin, it clearly had inflicted pain and harm as it poked me while making my way towards my fathers embrace.

My dad wrapped his arms around me, hugged me deeply and absorbed my wailing excuse. To this day, I don’t know if he saw through my feeble and made up tale or not. Looking back, I guess it doesn’t really matter. All I know is I was above and beyond happy to be back in his presence and know he was my dad and he was there; strong and present. Something every child cherishes and deserves.

I’m still challenged to understand the difference between my acceptances of my early Father’s Day celebrations versus honoring my dad’s. I guess it boils down to being easier to give than to receive. Perhaps it’s being on the other side of the relationship. But I am now certain of one thing, and that is the day carries far deeper meaning for me than in the beginning years of parenthood. Today, I’m on par with my dear old dad for I can receive on equal footing.

What caused this transformation? The second I heard, “You have cancer.” In that instant, the thoughts entering my mind went straight to my two kids. What would life be in a world without their father? How will they survive and feel the safety nets only a father can and will provide? What vacuum will they feel? All painful emotions and in that moment, although not cognizant, the subconscious underpinning I felt stirred from memories outlined, came pouring through every ounce of me. My cancer diagnosis transformed my view of myself as a father and the perception of such dramatically. I couldn’t comprehend nor imagine at my kid’s age a world without a dad. It was unfathomable.

I’m now five years enlightened and Father’s Day has finally sunk in. It’s as if a light appeared in a dimmed room and the day took on new meaning and importance. Most of all I’ve gained perspective on the importance of being a dad. For now I see its purpose far more clearly and appreciate the honor. It’s now on my list of special days and awarded to someone at least fifty percent responsible for bringing others into the world. I like to think of it as the gift that keeps on giving as I’ve been extremely blessed with two wonderful contributions to mankind. They are as good as they can possibly be and I’ll leave it there.

Looking back on my prior life, I didn’t give much credence to dates and milestones in general. It took my cancer diagnosis to open my eyes to such. I’m now grateful for my new one and I’d be remiss if I stated celebrating the day where I’m acknowledged for being a dad was just another day. It’s not. It’s taken on complete and absolute meaning. A day I cherish and am eternally grateful to experience again and again for however many more I’m given the opportunity to share. Live life as if you have cancer. And have a…Happy Fathers Day!

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