Reflections on Father’s Day: Connecting Four Generations
This Sunday in June is Father’s Day in the United States. It’s a reflective weekend for me, as it marks the second Father’s Day after my own dad’s passing. It has made me think about the relationship between parents and kids. Although one of the most fundamental, most powerful relationships of our lives, fatherhood is one we enter into with no training and few skills. Oftentimes, we simply mirror the behavior and words of our own parents—even though we wince when we recognize their voices coming out of our mouths!
As I thought about our hopes and fears, our dreams and expectations, I remembered a profound children’s song my daughters used to listen to when they were young. “Grandpa’s Song” makes us think about how we always related to our parents in that earliest, most impressionable age—as children. No matter how old we get, we often feel like children in relation to our parents. Here are the lyrics to the song, along with a link to hear the gentle melody:
Grandpa’s Song (by Bob Schneider)
I can still see his face.
I can still hear his voice.
He was a guiding light in my life
When I was just a boy.
Grandpa means someone special to everyone,
But when you’re just a kid,
It’s so hard to believe
That he was once young.
And I can still remember the first time
He told me about his mom and dad
And how he thought of them every day
And when he did, he felt just like a kid again.
And I can still hear him say,
I’ll always be my mama’s baby.
I’ll be my daddy’s pride and joy.
If I could live to be 103,
When I think of them, I’ll just be a boy.
And I just sat listening,
Not really knowing what he was meaning.
And from an old man’s face
There came a warm embrace,
And I know I saw a young boy dreaming.
And he told me about all the good times he had
When he was just a child.
I could feel it in his voice.
I could feel it in his eyes.
I could see it in his boyish smile.
Now think of it. Can you think of it?
Well, just think of it.
For everyone who ever lived
In this whole wide world,
Well, just think of it:
Everyone is someone’s little boy or little girl.
This year, for this Father’s Day, I sent each of my sons-in-law a book on fatherhood. Each of them is father to a 1 1/2-year-old son. What occurred to me is that parenting is such a busy, full-time occupation, that there is little time for reflection. I hope the book will help them reflect on their roles as fathers and maybe to think about their own dads in the process. Here is a summary from the publisher’s website:
From the popular radio series, This I Believe comes this touching and thought-provoking compilation of original essays on one of the most fundamental of human relationships—fatherhood. It is a relationship filled with joy and heartbreak, love and anger, lessons learned, and opportunities missed.
The stories in this collection are engaging and meaningful. Some are reverential and loving; some are sad and clouded by yearning, loss, and regret. You’ll read reflections from expectant and new dads, full of optimism, as well as from longtime parents who, through the distance of time, are able to reflect on their successes and failures as fathers.
We also hear from children (some young and some well into adulthood) writing about their fathers. They honestly and openly introduce us to the men who shaped them, sometimes in surprising ways. They talk about the fathers they want to emulate, the mistakes they hope to avoid repeating, and the wisdom they realized they’ve gained.
This I Believe: On Fatherhood offers a compelling portrait of the diverse range of experiences and beliefs related to the father-child relationship. With personal insights and inspiration, this collection makes a wonderful gift for long-time fathers, new fathers, and fathers-to-be.
If you haven’t taken my Father’s Day quiz, you can do so here.