Today is Father's Day, and I think of my dad. He died almost long ago, but I still think about him all the time.
Sometimes I even have dreams in which he tells me what I should be doing. That's strange because I don't remember him lecturing me about what to do when he was alive. He simply showed me the right way through his example.
My wife says one of the reasons she married me was because she knew I had a good role model.
I think of my dad when he was the age I am today. I also remember myself in those days and the things that I did. It's all very clear to me now.
I must have driven him crazy!
Like most boys, I didn't grow up dreaming about becoming a father. Boys grow up dreaming about becoming professional baseball, football or basketball players. When those dreams disappear they set their sights elsewhere: CEO of international corporations; researching a cure to cancer and heart disease; ending poverty, war and maybe even the curse on the Chicago Cubs.
But then one day they put a baby in a man's arms, tell him he's a daddy, and everything for him changes completely in that moment. Guys who set out to conquer the world suddenly realize they're holding the whole world in their arms.
Years ago my wife and I and our children sometimes celebrated Father's Day during June family vacations to St. Petersburg Beach in Florida. We went there often on vacation.
I can remember walks on that white sand beach with our youngest daughter, Elizabeth, when she was just a little girl. She loved to walk through the cool, wet sand and let the gulf water roll over her little toes. I reached my arm down and held her hand.
Sometimes while we walked I would stop to watch a big, sleek boat race across the water. I stood there holding the hand of our little girl and thinking how I would love to ride in one of those boats.
Last January it finally happened. Friends invited us on their boat in St. Petersburg.
As we moved through the blue, gulf water on that beautiful boat, I looked way back toward the beach and I saw something I will never forget. I saw a young father holding the hand of his little girl as he watched our big, sleek boat race by.
Riding in that boat was everything I always dreamed it would be. But I realized there was one thing in the world I had enjoyed even more: Walking through the wet sand holding the hand of our little girl, letting the gulf water roll over our toes.
I wish we could do it just one more time.
My wife and I have three children, now all grown. My message to them is simple. This Father's Day you don't need to give me a thing. I already have the best gift in life a man can have: The opportunity to be a dad and a granddad.
This Father's Day you can give your dad ties and golf balls and even boat rides.
But his real gift will always be you.
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