Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father's Day...and the Lemonade Stand Update

First, I wanted to update everyone on the post from last evening.  It seems that publicity in Montgomery County, MD got to be a bit much for county officials.  They have rescinded the $500.00 fine on the children selling lemonade and have waived the fee for a permit they needed.  The kids had to move their stand a few feet down the street, however they are sitll in business and donating all proceeds to pediatric cancer.  Nice to hear someone actually could extract their collective heads from their.....well, we know where they were stuck.  Congrats, kids...and please keep up the good work.  It was an honor to be able to write about you and I hope you inspire more young people to perform similar acts of this nature.  Bravo!

Now, the other part of tonight's post - Happy Father's Day!  I know it's tomorrow, but reflections over the past few days have me sending these wishes tonight.  You see, tomorrow will be a strange day for me.  Father's Day always has been, especially over the last 10-15 years.  No, the 'strange' part has nothing to do with actually being a father...unless you ask Brittany.  She might say otherwise.  You see, it's always 'strange' because I had so many calls to make.  I had my biological father, my step-father (that adopted my sister and I and raised us), and my other step-father that was around later in life. 

I'd like to tell my biological father that, though we lost 15 years of contact while I was growing up, I am appreciative and grateful for the last 25 years.  We became great friends and, as he was a great salesman and sales manager, I appreciated his guidance when I got into business.  I remember when he first got me to invest in a set of golf clubs because, "If you're going to be in sales, you're going to have to learn how to golf."  It became a game I fell in love with and, quite honestly, was the thing that brought us closer again.  I remember every time we were on a golf course and our trips to Myrtle Beach.  I remember, too, how he helped guide me into sales, the sales training book he gave me when I started, and the advice he offered through the years.  He and Momma Little gave me a place to stay when I separated from my ex-wife...and never asked for a thing in return.  I remember spending time in the family business when I was very young, a local dairy, and how he always seemed proud to have me with him.

I'd like to tell my step-father how much I appreciate how he raised us.  He taught us manners, right from wrong, respect, and consideration for others.  I remember getting up at 4:00 a.m. on Christmas break while I was in grade school so I could travel with him on his sales route for a snack food company.  I remember, too, the sound his belt made when it was being pulled with speed through the loops on his pants just before he doubled it over and showed me the "error of my ways."  Every one of them was earned, too, and I know he had to deal with a lot from me.  I remember he and my grandfather taking me for my first car and how they both could tell what was wrong with the engine just by listening to it.  Great mechanics.  He gave me my first beer...then freaked when I was drinking with friends and got busted.  Okay, I was young-ish.  We'll leave it at that.  I was, in no small way, a problem.  No jail time, but a disciplinarian's wonder child.  He got lots of practice in with me.

The other step-father earned his share of memories with us, too.  I remember the family vacations to Oak Island, NC and how he was the stero-typical grandfather to my kids.  I remember him teaching my step-son to fish in the surf...and, though he was well over 300 pounds, the "Gentle Giant" lying in a hammock with Brittany as a baby.  I remember the times he gave advice and would answer the phone at 2:00 a.m.  I remember him taking me to his company golf outings, too, and how he was proud to introduce me as his "son".  Most importantly, though, I remember how happy he made my mother.  For the first time in her life, she seemed at peace and that she had truly found her life-partner.  Mom was the one constant in our lives and it was important to us that she be happy.  He was her best friend and, together, they have weathered many situations that require marital teamwork.  He protected her, cared for her and her family, and loved her.  For that, I will always be grateful.

Collectively, all these men have had one striking shared quality that played the most important role in my life - they taught me how to be a father.  Right or wrong, their teachings have enabled me to become the best father I can be.  I have learned a great deal from them all and hope that their wisdom will continue to guide me now and in the future.  I hope I show the patience, love, kindness, and gentle qualities they did.  I hope, too, that I can be strict, disciplined, and motivated as they were.  I hope, overall, that I can be an amalgam of their best qualities.  I try, every day, and hope I have made them proud.  I know many of you feel these things, too, about your fathers.  I hope you've already picked up the phone, sent a card, written an e-mail.  I hope these things because, as I hate to think about it, I am no longer able.  My step-father that raised us is alive and I saw him this week, however we are more friends now.  He has another family and we rarely see each other.  My biological father and my mother's husband both died last year within four months of each other.  There are times I want to speak to them both, yet I know any calls or letters will go unanswered.  For those of you in the same situation, I empathize.  For the rest of you, do it now.  Pick up the phone and tell dad how much you love him, miss him, and appreciate him.  If you haven't seen him for awhile, make the time.  If the relationship is strained, fix it.  If it's non-existent, make the effort.  Do what you can to make your father feel like it truly is 'His Day'.  To all my friends that are fathers - Happy Father's Day!  You, too, have helped me become a better father...and a dad.

Until next time......

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