Dear old dads, this one’s for you

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Tom Neuhoff

Today we celebrate the fathers who taught us how to ride a bike, fish, shoot a gun and reveal to us all about “The Birds and the Bees.” I was 9 when my father sat me down to reveal the “facts of life.” It was the first time I ever saw a grown man sweat profusely. I tried to break the tension by telling him I already knew all there was to know but then, for some reason, he stood up and left the room. What was your experience like?

Your father was there when you fell off your bike right after he took off the training wheels. If you’re a boy he was there when your heart was broken by a girl dreaming of marrying a chiropractor. If you’re a girl, he was there when you were judged by how you look. He held you and assured you just how amazing you truly are. He attended every soccer game you played in even though he was bored and fell asleep during the national anthem. If this describes your father, you are truly one of the lucky ones.

I was a single father, raising my son from the age of 9 until he ventured out on his own at 18. Sure, it was a lot of work but I like to look at it as a “Joy of Sacrifice.” You might have volunteered for multiple shifts at a job you hate but all of that is in the wind while watching your kids opening gifts on Christmas morning. You did all of this and more because you are a father. You are a hero. You always will be.

They say time flies and if you’re a parent you know just how true that is. I vividly remember carrying my 4-year-old son on my shoulders to the circus in Vancouver, Canada, while I was a graduate student there. Now Tyson is 43 years old. Where does the time go? If you’ve got young children, I envy you. Those years with my young son were the best years of my life. Children are God’s greatest gift. I was never crazy about diapers but everything after that is a blessing.

Now, at the age of 68, I am a grandfather. I am telling you this because even though you young fathers are basking in the ecstasy of raising young children, I want to assure you life only gets better. Decades from now you will get to spoil your grandchildren. Whenever you visit them, they will run to you shouting, “Grandpa!” because they are smart enough to know you bring gifts and love. You are their angel in gray hair.

A bit of history here. A bill to accord national recognition of Father’s Day was first introduced in Congress in 1913. It wasn’t until 1972 when President Nixon signed it into law that it became an official celebration. What took so long? Are we fathers chopped liver?

If you’ve got a father who has always been there for you, I hope you let him know just how much you love him. I’m not saying everyone should have children, but if you want kids perhaps one day you will understand just what the “Joy of Sacrifice” is all about. Happy Father’s Day!

***

Tom Neuhoff is a Hollywood-based comedy writer who once lived in Coeur d’Alene with his young son.

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