A Father’s Lead

I’m writing this just after Father’s Day.

A day which remains bittersweet for me.

On Father’s Day, I remember the man who did it best who left our world in 2011.

On Father’s Day, I celebrate the two boys I have: Jackson (15) and Sebastian (5).

On Father’s Day, I think about lessons I was taught, lessons I chose to learn and lessons I wasn’t prepared for.

I think about how my father worked to support his family.

I think about how incredibly selfless he was.

I think about how my father modeled kindness, respect, integrity and unconditional love.

I think about how I’ve modeled the same and how often I failed to meet the mark.

My father always forgave me. It was never a question of right or wrong, it was a matter of: If you know better, DO better.

I’ve been a father for 15 years, I’ve been fatherless for 12 of those years.

I say fatherless because I no longer have his physical body to hold but I do have his spirit and his memory to guide me.

I cherish his memory because my father allowed me to see his strength and his sensitivity.

I was never raised to not show emotions, rather to feel what I needed to feel, and most importantly, to heal what needed mending.

I’ve advocated for mental health over the last 20+ years because it saved my life, in no small part because my father stood my side and was relentless in his search until he found the help I needed when I needed it most.

I champion mental health support so much that I’ve impressed the importance of it on my staff of coaches, all young men who recognize when their own mental health needs attention.

It’s not lost on me that the coaches I work with are technically young enough to be my sons.

Which makes my paternal instinct kick in even more; not because they don’t have fathers of their own but because I believe no man can have too many positive male role models in their lives.

To that: I give thanks to all the men in my life that I take advice from, who I listen to when they speak lovingly about their families, who I watch when they make the time to care for their physical bodies, and to those who are not afraid to cry, to show fear and hesitation and to be the best versions of themselves that they can be.

I know not every man grew up with a good father, nor did every woman. I am deeply sorry for that.

I know that I have not always been the man that my father raised me to be, and I am deeply sorry for that too.

On Father’s Day, I was reminded that my father, in spirit, still routinely takes me by the hand to say: This is the path to go on…and I can lead you there.