First and foremost, I love and respect my father. He gets no cookie for being and staying married to my mom and raising me - that would be an insult to his character and upbringing. It was a given. Not an extraordinary feat. In his view of the world, and thanks to him, in my own view of the world, being my dad was not an option, but a God-given mandate and a blessing. What is extraordinary is what he did with his opportunity as a father. There is nothing he wouldn't do - no science project too onerous, no word too long to help me with its spelling, no lecture that wasn't worth the time, no passion he wouldn't help me chase. In the sixth grade, when I talked about how not being able to jump double dutch was the bane of my existence on the playground, it was his idea to take me and my mom to the park so I could literally learn the ropes with practice. Yet he was my biggest critic - and his praise has always meant so much more to me because of it. His morality remains with me, his reverence for God will never leave me. His belief in me means the world to me. I love him. And one greeting card feast day just isn't enough to show how much - so I tell him every time we speak that I love him.
I really do.
There's two other fathers that I want to give a shout out to, though. Earl and Tiger Woods. I love their story. I love the story of Earl Woods fostering his son's passion and talent until he became the best - unquestionably the very best - at what he does. Did anyone see his performance in the US Open tonight? My gosh. Recovering from surgery and everything! I'm blown away. This is like when Michael Jordan (raised by the late James R. Jordan Sr., which whom he had a special and enduring relationship) led the Bulls to victory when he was weak with the flu. Nobody does it like Tiger. Even from behind, they couldn't count him out.
I was touched. It reminds me of my dad.
Barack Obama is right about taking absentee fathers to task, though. He isn't saying anything I haven't already heard during my upbringing from various elders over the years. He isn't saying anything I haven't thought on my own as I continually meet people who have absolutely no relationship with their fathers. It is the responsibility of both parents to make a good upbringing for their children, and it is the responsibility for mothers to choose and commit with good fathers as opposed to just incidentally procreating with boyfriends. Creating life is not supposed to be incidental. And neither is deciding to leave your child, leaving the entire responsibility of raising your child to their mother, just because you and the child's mother can't get your relationship to work. Every child needs what Earl Woods gave his son. Every child needs what my daddy gave me - still gives me.
Happy father's day.