As this Father’s Day approaches, I find myself in a reflective mood thinking about the things my dad did and didn’t do. The more I reflect, the more I find myself focusing on his failings.
My dad failed when it came to not influencing me to believe in God. While some dads believe they should leave the choice of faith up to their kids, my father was convinced it was his responsibility to pass on to his children their need of a Savior. As Dad and I watched the 2008 Summer Olympics, we groaned in unison as the US men’s 4×100 meter relay team dropped the baton and failed to qualify for the finals. My father contrasted the dropped baton to what happens in a family when parents fail to pass on spiritual faith to their progeny.
My dad failed to put time with my brother and me ahead of time with our mom. His relationship with his wife always came first. But, I didn’t mind. I loved seeing my parents’ love grow. It gave me a sense of security. In the process of prioritizing his marriage, my dad show me by personal example how to remain true to ones wedding vows.
My dad failed at keeping his promises. On more than one occasion when I was misbehaving, he promised that he would renege on taking me to a special event on which I had my young heart set. But, when I showed a repentant heart, he failed at following through on his declared discipline. His willingness to give me grace provided me a picture of my Heavenly Father’s love.
My dad failed to brag about what he did in World War 2. As part of the “Greatest Generation,” he kept quiet about his life as a Marine. The sacrifices he made and the horrors he witnessed were not to be trivialized by casual conversation. His service to his Uncle Sam was not viewed as heroic. He saw it as his grateful duty. Only near the end of his life did he share aspects of his experiences he wanted his family to know.
My dad failed to model the popular notion that claims grown men don’t cry. I saw my dad shed a tear on multiple occasions. A tender heart beat within his Semper Fi physique. His willingness to show his emotions gave me permission to acknowledge my feelings without fear for what other would think.
My dad failed getting me to join him and my brother in the family business. Fortunately, my father was aware of my call to pastoral ministry. He could tell that my gifts would not be best utilized in property management and maintenance. Affirming my skill set, he released me to follow my heart even though it meant I would live at a distance from my folks. It meant a great deal to me that he celebrated my calling.
My dad failed to make me wait until his death to benefit from my inheritance. He knew I would one day benefit from his hard work and successful investments. But, he also knew the resources he’d eventually leave behind would make the biggest difference when my wife and I wanted to buy a house or put our kids through college. His failure to follow what many fathers do proved a gift to both him and me.
As you can clearly see, I had a failure for a father. But I’m hardly sorry. I hope that my kids will come to the same conclusion about me one day when I am gone.
Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos is the full-time chaplain at Covenant Shores Retirement Community on Mercer Island. He is the faith and values columnist for the Mercer Island Reporter and contributes original poetry each Blue Friday to KOMO news radio.