There are typically three times throughout a given year when I feel most compelled to write about my Dad: the anniversary of his passing (March 23), Father’s Day and his birthday (August 18.)
Each year that passes since he did, I try to think about lessons he taught me, memories I shared with him and some reflections on if I learned anything at all from the 35 years I got to spend with him in this world.
So, in a way, this post (leading up to Father’s Day) is about him.
But not completely.
I am an only child and I never had to share my Father’s love with another sibling. I have literally no idea what that feels like.
Nearing the end of my Dad’s life, he got to enjoy three years of being an Opa (grandfather) to Jackson before he left this world. A role in life that he loved.
And in the time since he’s been gone, he is an Opa in memory and inspiration to Sebastian, who sadly will never be able to experience what life with my Dad would be like.
And I guess that leaves me in a strange place, never quite regaining my footing in the eight years since Dad’s been gone and knowing that I have to be closer to the man he was for my boys, because they deserve it.
It’s not just the memory of my Father that carries me through. I get to train great men, great fathers, every day here at the studio. I listen to the way they talk about their children, how they struggle or rejoice in raising them and I take inspiration.
I look at things that other fathers do and I just try to understand what makes them tick, what inspires them to greater heights and, in turn, how do their children respond?
There are few apples-to-apples comparisons that I can make. I have a son with special needs and I have a son who is neuro-typical. They both require a different type of parenting. And I remain, ever the student, still learning. Still trying to apply those lessons.
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I write this article in tribute to my father who taught me every skill or lesson I would ever need to know about being a truly great man. I live with a frustration that he did not get to see enough of those lessons come to my life within me during his time with us.
Should there be a heaven which I was raised to believe there was, I find some hope that he’s watching. As a result, I try to make as few mistakes as possible as I don’t want to let him down now as I did so frequently when he was here.
I write this article to every father I train at the studio. I give all of you my heartfelt and sincere thanks for reminding me that, while a mother can give a child things we cannot, a father has an obligation to instill great lessons in our children. Be kind, be true, be honest, be fair, be strong, be humble, be sensitive, be compassionate…
The men, the fathers, that I train here show me their capacity to be all of those things.
It shows. I see it.
And I write this article for those men who know, like me, that they have obligations not just to their children but to themselves. To take care of their bodies as they do their minds. To be on this earth for as long as time will allow.
Which leads me to an explanation of the picture you see below. Something that resonates with me on a level I will likely fail to express appropriately.
When Ned first came to the studio to inquire about our services, he had already heard about the work we do. And I asked him the big question that I ask so often of our weight loss clients: “Why” do you want to lose weight?
Ned’s answer hit me like a ton of bricks.
“I lost my Dad several years ago to complications from dementia. I just have to take better care of myself to not let this happen to me as well.”
He started crying and I’ll be very frank, I was ready to cry too.
“I understand.” I told him. “I lost my Dad several years ago too. I haven’t been right since. Nearly everything I do for my health I do because I want to be in this world longer than he was.”
And Ned has continued to fulfill that obligation to himself. As of this writing, he’s down 27 pounds, with more to come.
We have had some painfully candid conversations in the handful of months that he has been here. I hold nothing back, neither does he. Life doesn’t always give us “pretty” truths.
But the other day, he came in to train and he happened to be here at a time when both his wife and his daughter were here training as well. I should mention that his experience here and the kind words he shared about us with others has led to us having the opportunity to work with his whole family (and one of his colleagues.)
Ned went to weigh in and I noticed a significant drop from his previous weigh in. I asked him if he knew how much he had lost. He said “No, I just let you tell me.”
“Buddy, you’re down 27 lbs!”
We typically will line up (myself and the client) underneath our RevFit logo to flash our fingers up of how much weight the client has lost. As we were doing so, Ned’s daughter Sammy had my phone to capture the shot.
Ned and I were stepping into position to get ready for the shot and he started crying.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied “I’m just so happy.”
I gave him a hug and told him how proud I was of him. And unbeknownst to me, Sammy captured the shot.
To me, being a father means wearing a lot of different hats. None of which are more or less important than the hats a mother has to wear. But Dads do things perhaps a little bit differently than Moms do.
To watch Ned fulfill the promise he made to himself about his health makes me over the moon happy for him. His journey is far from over. There will be many more candid conversations to have.
Ned is another in a long line of aforementioned examples of fathers I pay close attention to. I watch because I want to learn. How do other great men do it? How do other great men live lives as great fathers?
I have looked at this picture many times since it was taken last week. And every time, it damn near makes me break down in tears.
It’s one of the few times in my life that I will give myself credit for being the man my father wanted me to be. Someone who could inspire as many as he did when he was with us. As I told him, a month before he passed, “I’ll never be the person you are, not even on my best day.” The words which will always, always, always be with me that he said in return: “Just be a good father.”
I am trying Dad, I promise.
“We Make Great People Greater”