12 Jun 2010
This is my first Father's Day to celebrate without my father. Earlier this year he passed away after a long battle with heart and lung disease. It will be a rather somber day for me this year, but I carry in my heart all those things we shared while he was alive.
My father taught me many things especially when I was young. He taught me how to ride a bicycle, hunt and fish and then how to drive a car. All those things the person carries with him the rest of his life.
I am reminded of what Mark Twain said about his father. "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." That sums up every person’s experience with his or her father. Most people do not appreciate their father until after he is gone. Then they remember all of the things that are a part of their life that came from their father. That is a shame.
I remember when my father gave me the old traditional father and son "birds and bees" talk. It went something like this. My father sat down with me on the back porch and said, "I guess I need to have a little talk with you..." then there was a long period of awkward silence... "about the birds and the bees."
I prepared myself for a very long lecture and in the back of my mind I was wondering if the old man knew as much as I did about the "birds and the bees." When you are 16, there is not anything that you do not know. I was more than willing to share with him my expertise in this area of human activity.
Father cleared his throat and then said, "The birds and the bees is something you need to know about. The one will peck you to death and the other will sting you to death. My advice is stay away from both and you'll have a happy life." With that, he got up and went back to doing whatever he was doing. I never did get around to thanking him for that piece of advice. It took me years to understand it.
In thinking back on my father, there were a few things I wish he had told me.
For example, it would have been nice if he had told me that women are not men. I did find this out on my own after some time. This has nothing to do with biology but everything to do with psychology. He could have warned me that at least once a month women are psycho. Men have no idea what is going on and every month it returns like a bad penny.
I also would have liked to have known that an argument is not won the day of the argument. Men have the idea that you speak your mind and then let bygones be bygones. Women, especially wives, have no concept of letting bygones be bygones. My father should have told me that no man could ever win any argument with a woman. The sweetest and most powerful two words in all of the English language is, "Yes, dear."
Something else I had to learn the hard way and I wish my father had told me about it. Never surprise your wife with an expensive gift for no reason. Suspicion is a hard thing to dispel. You think you are doing something nice and spontaneous and she thinks you have done something naughty and suspicious.
My father could have saved me a lot of grief if he would have told me never to ask your wife, "How's your day been?" When you do interject such a query, your wife will give you a minute-by-minute, conversation by conversation account of her entire day, and please, do not interrupt her. Any man who can keep up with that should be given the Nobel Peace Prize.
Another thing that would have been helpful if my father would have explained to me is that anything cute and comes as a bundle of joy will cost a fortune and keep on costing for the rest of your life. These "bundles of joy" look so cute in the hospital but after you bring them home the real cost begins. If we are going to have comprehensive health insurance, it should include the expenses of raising these babies after we bring them home from the hospital.
Then there is shopping. Oh my soul, it would have been so beneficial if my father could have sat down and explained to me the concept of shopping from a woman's point of view. Shopping is an art no man can really aspire to. I cannot tell you how much it has cost me for my wife to save $3.99.
I guess my father did the best he could. That reminds me of my Heavenly Father. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:11 KJV).
In celebrating Father's Day, let us not forget to thank our Heavenly Father for all his good gifts usward.
Rev. James L. Snyder