Guest post by Ken Arnou, I am sure his kids will have a post on him for this slot sometime soon!
Where are YOU going to be on Sunday, June 20th? You may have to check your calendar to be sure, but if fatherly/son instincts serve you well, you’ll know that day is the best day of the year. Father’s Day. To be a Father is awesome, but it starts with being a son first. Some have it a little tougher, where they didn’t really have a dad around as an example. Others had him right there all along. I kind of am in-between…had a father til I was 2, then a step-dad til 12, then back to my real dad again. Bit of a topsy turvy life, bouncing around here and there, but when the dust settled, I was with my dad, step mom, 2 step brothers and a half sister. Complicated yes, a family, definitely.
It wasn’t long after I was pulled back close by my dad that he was rethinking his decision. Bringing in a new kid to the family from a different upbringing, well, step…let’s call her mom, cuz she basically raised me when it counted, had to go to bat for me not once, but THREE times. Convincing my dad to give me one more chance. Disruptive behaviour, hard to adjust to a new lifestyle (now going to church), it was a rough go for awhile. But love and patience of a dad who lost his own father when he was about the same age I was when he got me, won out in the end. I was allowed to stay, but after a long talk with mom that I needed to really smarten up on a bunch of little things that caused problems for everyone else.
Dad worked shift work, so he wasn’t always available for various things, but mom covered well. Sometimes he’d have to be sleeping or out cutting wood in between shifts. Some Saturdays he’d drag me outta bed early so that by 8 or 8:30 we were in the bush cutting, splittin’ and piling wood for the next year. As a teen, I’d stay up late of course, and be half zonked until mid-morning. Lugging 4 foot logs outta the swamp got you awake fairly quickly.
Got a job at McDonald’s and soon my Saturdays were usually working there instead. Still did the odd day in the bush, and there was always wood to pile/put away / put in the basement at home. Ever pile up an 8 foot long 4 foot high pile that was sloppy, because you didn’t do the ends right like your dad taught you? As a test, he’d give it a good shove with his foot. Not a kick, a shove. It can’t be falling over making a mess or being a danger to the little ones wandering around. Yep, I had a pile or two fall over after the foot shove and spend another 45 minutes to an hour piling it again, the way I was shown. Not a real hard way to teach you when you look back on it, but at the time, what do you think I was thinking?? Yeah, the same thing any other teen boy would..”whaddya do THAT for??” It was piled. No, not piled right. That taught me a life lesson right there ~ do it right the first time, it’s gonna have to stand up to some sort of test later on, and HAS to pass it.
A couple years later, I’m leaving for some gov’t sponsored Mechanical Engineering type course…so they called it…it was learning about gauges (analog) Got into a motorcycle accident in early October, fell behind a bit, (had good marks so far), missed teaming up with another student and basically screwed myself out of a decent chance at finishing the course with a good grade and having to do it alone instead of as a pair like it was designed for. I dropped out and decided to see what else was available. Now, still being young and stupid, I didn’t call home to explain it all, I simply quit (it was free anyways, through some Futures program) and walked away from the program. The instructor didn’t really argue much to convince me to stay – I suggested maybe I go to a Bible camp (JOY) to work for the summer, get re-aligned with my life and go from there. He thought I meant I was going to be a preacher or something. Whatever.
During all this, my dad kept in contact with me via mail. Hand-written letters of support, encouragement and day-to-day happenings at home. I didn’t call home often, likely happy to be free and on my own. I worked at a gas station (Avenue Road Shell in Toronto) and stayed at the apartment I had rented with a couple buddies until June when I could get myself up to camp. I forget how I did that, likely mom came and took me up there. Or maybe Keith Pettit helped, can’t remember. No matter, I got there and worked the summer. Got the odd letter from dad. They may have come up to visit a day in there, but I wasn’t pushing for that much, I was on my own still and being at camp is one of the best ways to start out (surrounded by wiser, older Christians who want to help guide you onto the right direction) I think one of those summers I even had a roomie put in with me, little Jimmy Forde. (who’s not so little anymore…and is now a dad himself)
But, back to my dad. From a man who only finished Grade 6 I think, he’s come a long way. Now he emails me regularly, is on Facebook, and we still chat on the phone once in awhile. This weekend I’m heading home (April 17th) to spend some time with my dad, ahead of time. My own kids will be doing something with me on Father’s day, so I’ll visit my dad first. He just got a knee replaced a little over a month ago, so he’s not moving too fast and I’ll be able to keep up with him. My loving wife encouragement me to go ahead and visit for a weekend, without them, so there’s not always them to be entertaining too (running here and there). I had the same idea a few weeks back and it was neat that she suggested what I was already thinking. Awesome. Before Mother’s day, we’ll need to write AWESOME MOM and AWESOME WIFE blog entries!
So, guys, there’s usually an awesome man that you can thank, visit, go to, call, write, email, fax or just think about. For many, it’s their dad. For some, it’s not, but there may be someone who substituted for a fatherly figure somewhere in there for you. Thank them too. I know when I needed advice while at camp, Monte was always there (and John Coles too) to chat with. They filled in the gaps of me not being home in my late teens/early twenties, while I was still growing up and learning how to do things. I guess I’m still growing up and still learning, but now I’m passing along stuff to my kids, and hoping I do a good job of it. I get little gifts and cards for Father’s Day. But it’s when they stop for a second in their busy little lives and give me a hug (unrequested), that you know they love you no matter what. I’m far from a perfect or ideal father, but I try. I can try harder though. I should, my dad is still trying (and being a better father day by day)
So, kudos to my dad, not just awesome on a Thursday, but awesome every day. He put up with ME and still loves me. Kind of like my relationship with my heavenly Father. He puts up with me too (in different ways) and yet still loves me. I guess that’s the best trait of a father. Love that knows NO bounds. No borders. No end.
Fellas, and girls too, let your dad know that you appreciate all he’s done for you. Maybe you don’t talk much. I know my conversations aren’t mentally deep with my dad most times. But when both are talking from the heart and really listening to each other, what does it matter what you talk about? Just talk…connect…and be grown up enough to say those words a father needs to hear. “I Love You Dad”. and give him a hug. Even when you are over 40 and your dad is over 65, give each other a big hug. Remember, it’s those unrequested ones that mean more than anything on earth.
I could go on and on and on….pages and pages. A tribute to dad would basically turn into a book eventually, with all the stories and such. Good times indeed. Things that stand out in my mind, I look back on and smile.
Hopefully you can do the same.