A son sees a father struggling to be the best he can be.
What shall he tell that father?
“Relax, Dad. Don’t sweat it.”
And this might serve him for the anxiety and nervousness.
“Pay attention to the little things, Pop.”
And this, too, might serve him.
Sometimes the growth of a relationship can be nurtured better by not trying
more than by trying too hard.
Setting limits counts, and it’s still part of a father’s job,
or even a grandfather’s or step-father’s job.
Tell Dad to be a fool every so often and to have no shame
over have been a fool, hoping to learn from the folly.
Tell him to tell his stories again and again—
the stories of what it was like when he was a kid
and how things have changed
and how he had to struggle when money was tight
and jobs were scarce
and you didn’t think the world to owed you a living.
Tell him you understand that you may be a bit spoiled
but it isn’t his fault
and, besides, you have your own struggles
even if they’re not as visible as they were
during the depression, during the war,
during the unemployment.
Tell him to be a good receiver
and to believe what you wrote
on the Father’s Day card
that he really is loved, admired and appreciated.
Tell him to enjoy himself and have a life of his own;
Tell him you want to give back some of what he gave you
all those years.
Tell him to be ready to laugh freely and openly
and not be ashamed of tears either.
Tell him you understand that he has an accumulation of
memories which you know he cherishes
and those memories are connected to the tears.
Tell him he doesn’t have to be Super-Dad
that you know it’s not a Leave-it-to-Beaver life
and you know the world has changed
and fathers are often confused
but he should enjoy the moment anyway
because this is not dress rehearsal.
Tell him to be different from other Dads
and not to worry about being different
because he is unique
and doesn’t have to go to the ballgames
or fishing trips or father-son wilderness trips—
then he may accept himself
and his way of being a father.