This coming weekend we look to the arrival on the calendar to what some view as simply the counterpart to Mother’s Day—Father’s Day 2017. It might seem that 80% of our attention is given to Mother’s Day because it comes first, and the TV and newspaper ads seem to focus all about Mother’s Day, and then, more quietly, here’s Father’s Day, too. Is that your experience?
Because I lost my father relatively early in my life, on this annual occasion, I think deeply about what my dad meant and means to me. I have plenty of memories. He was a daily inspiration and encourager to me.
Although you may think of me now as a “good son” because my I’m carrying forward the family name and business, that doesn’t mean that I was a perfect child 30 years ago. Of course, I needed discipline as does every child. I do recall, though, that my dad could be a disciplinarian without striking fear in my heart. He made clear what he and Mom expected of me, and assured me that he knew I could do what he asked.
My dad was a tremendous sportsman and I know my love of soccer and golf today are directly due to our genetics. You couldn’t ever find a better encourager and coach; all my friends loved him. So, even though he’s not here in life for me to take to dinner, gift with a new set of golf clubs, and spend time with, many of you can do that for and with your dads.
But it’s really not about what you buy, or do, or want to give your dad that shows appreciation. Instead, you can honor your dad every day of your life by remembering what he did for you as a child, the lessons you learned by what he said or the things he didn’t say, and he will see that.
What was the first thing you remember getting your father for Father’s Day when you were young? Did you do a drawing especially, or make something like a clay plate with your handprints? If you did, chances are good your father still has it, not necessarily because he’s sentimental, but it’s more likely that your mother didn’t allow him to throw it out.
When we’re young we simply have no idea of what our parents do for us. We are taught early that when parents leave the house, whether one or both parents work, it’s because they have “a job” to go to. If Dad isn’t home, he’s at work, right? But it’s not until we’re much more mature when we ask our fathers what they do for a career. It might be show and tell day at school or “Career Day” as they tend to call it now, but that’s often the first time when we learn what all the parents (Mom and Dad alike) do when they’re not at home.
We might hear them talking at the dinner table about their “day at work” and have a glimpse into what they do in their career, or we might not have cared to ask because we were preoccupied with the latest toy or game on TV and that took up most of our contemplative time.
In the past year especially, when Chelsea and I were planning details for our new Funeral Center, we talked about the fact that for over 50 years the “old location” had been the home that my parents had worked in. Any thoughts my dad might have had about how a new building might better serve the business were never ones we discussed together.
So, essentially, I didn’t have his input or guidance to go by for this important journey. Of course my mother,, Lorene, had input yet she essentially gave Chelsea and me free reign to design “for our next 50 years” in this building. I distinctly remember times when I’d sit in my office and think about what Dad might like about a new building, what might make him happy, and what my grandfather might also see as something worthwhile in the “new way” we do things here.
Dad would have loved the new technology. Granddad would have loved the parking lot as it’s well paved and marked. In fact, when you come in the front doors of our building, we’ve got bronze memorial plates to the founders of our family business prominently displayed outside. It is their shoulders I rested on in my earliest days with the business over a decade ago. Today, it is their wisdom I rely on in navigating daily business decisions.
My family is one that believed greatly in the Bryan Rotary Club. I am very active in the club today, first because they were and second because I enjoy the fellowship of the group. It’s a family tradition, which brings me back to Father’s Day. I’m not a father and I know I don’t know much about what it’s like to be a father, but I certainly do recall having a wonderful father who showed me every day of his life that it meant something very special to him that I was his son.
It’s not about the gift you buy, bow and wrapping paper you use to adorn the gift, or the fancy meal that you treat your father to that’s important this coming weekend. It’s your time, your in-person visit if you can possibly manage it, or your taking the opportunity to say “Thank you for loving me, teaching me, guiding me, and encouraging me.” That’s easy enough to do. And if you’re a person of few words, and you’d rather not get those words out directly, then just sit quietly with your dad and “be there” with and for him this weekend. He’ll understand and know what you mean.
This Father’s Day, remember how lucky you are if your dad is still alive to be part of your life. And, if you’re like me and you’re without your dad this holiday, take heart and know that you carry on his life and legacy in good ways, and in some cases, even better ways than he could. Take the good memories from your past and leave the ones more painful behind in the dust. Always remember the good and that’s all there will be room to remember. To all the dads in the Brazos Valley, all of us at Callaway-Jones salute you and thank you, for what you do every day. Happy Father’s Day!
Cody D. Jones ’02