My understanding of my father broadened when I became a father myself.
It was like a light turning on. Things started making sense. The boundaries and rules I couldn’t begin to understand as a child became perfectly logical. The time he spent with me, teaching me about sports, helping with homework and giving me all of the lessons that prepared me for manhood, received an extra jolt of significance. That effort, which I certainly took for granted at the time, was recognized for the gift it was.
And as I’ve grown older, and my responsibilities and experiences have expanded, my father’s influence, his wisdom and his example have all been invaluable resources for me.
I know he’s good for a phone call when I’m wrestling with a column idea. Call him an unofficial member of the Lincoln Times-News editorial board. Since becoming a homeowner, his handyman skills have gotten me through numerous projects — and there are sure to be more in the future. When I’m having a bad day, we can talk and joke and laugh, and whatever I was worried about comes into perspective.
I guess that’s what fatherhood is all about — perspective.
It’s our job, as fathers, to guide our child’s vision and understanding of their brief time on this planet so they can recognize the truth of their place in the greater whole of the human race and, at the same time, understand the power each one of us has to make the world a better place.
That’s a job I think many of us fathers don’t appreciate enough. It’s easy to get distracted by the day-to-day, when it’s the long-range example we’re setting that we should be concerned with. Sure, the parts all add up to the whole, but our children will outlast us and it’s their understanding of the world that will shape it when we’re gone.
I hope my son, who is 2.5 years old, and his brother, who will be born later this year, will grow up to be Godly, kind and empathetic (and a Don Juan, like their old man).
With the example I’ve had in my own father, I don’t need to worry about that becoming a reality.
Michael Gebelein is managing editor of the Lincoln Times-News.