Simply... Be There.
It is one of the earliest childhood memories I have.
I was in grade school, and it was Father Visit Day – the day all the fathers came to the classroom to visit their kids.
However, on this day, there was a snowstorm and the teacher told us that our fathers probably wouldn’t be able to make it, because of the snow.
I remember playing in the back of the room with building blocks when a group of my classmates started saying something to me, about my dad.
I turned and looked… and there was my father, snow covering his overcoat, standing by the door.
I couldn’t believe it.
No other father came to the classroom that day.
My dad quietly made his way to the back of the classroom where I was playing with the building blocks, and I remember he asked me what I was building.
I was so overjoyed that I could hardly speak.
Simply because… he was there.
He didn’t have to say anything.
His simply presence said, “I love you.”
It’s interesting that this is one of the earliest memories I have in my life.
Now, let me advance the story many, many years…
My wife, Tricia and I had three boys. At one point, two of our sons, Chris and Nicholas were playing football at one high school and our other son, George, was playing at a different high school (long story, I’ll tell you about it another time).
So, we would split up which games we watched. On this night, we were watching our son George’s game and my sister, Cathy, was watching Nicholas and Chris’ game.
I was only able to stay until half time, because I had to take a red eye back east for a speaking engagement.
At half time, as I was getting in my car to go to the airport, I spoke to my sister, and she said Nicholas’ game was close. I don’t know why, but something told me to get to the game as soon as I could (and pray that I would still make my flight).
I threw my luggage in the car and raced to Nicholas’ game. I saw the scoreboard and there was only a minute left, so I ran into the stadium.
Our team had the ball at the other team’s 10 yard line. On three consecutive plays they handed the ball to my son, Nicholas. Each time he got closer to the goal line.
On fourth down, with the crowd screaming, he tried one last time. From my vantage point, in the stands about 40 yards away, he clearly got in. From the vantage point of the clearly visually impaired referee only two feet away, he signaled Nicholas did not score.
The game was over.
Afterwards, I watched as our coach spoke to the entire team. Nicholas, with his head hung, was disconsolate.
I knew I had a plane to catch, but I wanted to let Nicholas know I was there.
As he began walking to the locker room, I tried getting his attention.
I began running along the chain link fence, yelling out his name. But, he couldn’t hear me. I was too far away.
He kept walking and now was getting closer to the locker room.
I began sprinting along the chain link fence.
I rounded the corner and just as Nicholas was about to enter the locker room, I ran in front of him.
He looked up, saw me, and slumped into my arms, crying, exhausted and dejected.
I wish I could tell you that I said something brilliant, at that moment. I didn’t.
That didn’t matter. What mattered when my father came to school that day and what mattered when I hugged my son that day is the one piece of advice I’d give every parent…
Be there for their medical exams. Be there for their parent-teacher conferences. Be there when they have nightmares. Be there when they are in a good mood or a bad mood. Be there in the good times and the bad times. Be there for the boring times.
In doing this, I have found you, as a parent, will leave a trail of love. It’s a trail of love that they will see one day goes from your heart to their heart.
Simply… Be there.
And if the referee happens to not be able to see that your son clearly has scored a touchdown, it doesn’t hurt to let loose with a few well-chosen colorful words expressing to your son that the referee needs to get his eyesight checked.
Keep the faith…
P.S. Here is the link to my latest movie, A Marriage Made in Heaven, which is full of faith, family and fun: https://bit.ly/AMarriageMadeinHeaven