When I was young, I idolized my father, judging him for his virtues. For most of the rest of my life, I criticized him, judging him for his faults.
I always loved him, but I didn’t always appreciate him. I was so aware of his imperfections (surely, no worse than my own) that I greatly undervalued his good qualities and all the things he did to make my childhood safe, comfortable, and fun.
It’s only when I met people who were neglected, ignored, or belittled by their fathers that I began to realize how lucky I was. I thought all dads were proud of, supported, and adored their children.
Until I became a father myself, I had no way of understanding the depth and intensity of his feelings and the emotional investment he had in my happiness.
I couldn’t imagine how much it must have upset him when I was cut from my baseball team or dumped by my first girlfriend, or how pleased he’d be today seeing me become the kind of father he taught me to be.
I deeply regret I didn’t tell him often enough or enthusiastically enough that he was a great dad.
I can’t fix that now. But if your dad is still alive, you can.
Your father doesn’t need another Father’s Day tie, wallet, or sweater. If you want to give him a gift he will treasure forever, buy a nice picture frame. Inside it put a handwritten note telling him he did a good job with specific memories of how he’s enriched your life. Then tell him how much you love him.
I wish I’d done that for my dad.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.