Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Father's Day Card

The Father’s Day Card                                                                             

Originally published in Horse Directory, June 2013

I’m a selfish oaf. Oh, I often set things up so that I can appear to be selfless, but hidden underneath there is always a glaring self-interest. I sometimes hide it better than others, but it’s there. I do for others, but I am secretly always seeking acknowledgement.

I confess that I have hated the month of June for some time. For the past ten years we
Horse show dads get to celebrate victories.
Here, with Sheila Rodgers at Good Shepherd.
 have raised our niece Sam, whose mother died suddenly when she was only 12 years old. This tragedy befell our family soon after we established our little backyard horse farm that we call Dreamcatcher.  Mary and I had been childless up to that point, and for me, horses were the catalyst for a sometimes clumsy relationship between a sensitive, tough-yet-fragile beautiful spirit and a willing but clueless older uncle with an agenda. I gladly took on the responsibility for Sam, for which I received many kudos for my generosity and dedication. But on a late June Sunday every year, I looked for an acknowledgement that never came. I looked for a Father’s Day card.

Now fortunately, a few years ago I adopted a healthier lifestyle, one of the benefits of which has been the gift of clarity.  I have come to see many things that happen in my daily life as lessons.  In my business as an electrician, I try to be loyal to my clients and I value loyalty in return. On every circuit breaker panel and fusebox in most homes, there is a sticker with the name of the last electrician that provided service. It is always a source of pride when I visit a client and see an old version of my sticker on their panel, perhaps from 25 years ago or more.

One such client, Mrs. R, had a panel in a more conspicuous place than most, which normally reside in dusty basements or garages. Since it was visible in her living
We also get to be there when the day doesn't
go exactly as planned.
space, I asked permission to put my sticker over that of a long-forgotten electrician who hadn’t been there in a long time. Mrs. R. would always say, “Oh, give it to me and I’ll put it on. I want to clean the cover first”. She never would, and it always irked me on return visits to see someone else’s name on “my” panel. Yet, I was the one she always called. No one else had touched anything remotely related to the electrical system in her home in many years. I had had all the benefits, but without the acknowledgement I had been seeking.  It bothered me until I was able to see the situation through different eyes: she had her own reasons for keeping that sticker there, which were frankly none of my business.

My horsey lifestyle with Sam, although not without its ups and downs, has carried with it the three elements of happiness: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. As a fledgling parent, a horse-show “dad”, driving instructor, chauffer, confidante, coach, ATM, sounding board, crying towel, and cheerleader and all the other things that come under the heading of ‘parent”, I have had a life of purpose which otherwise would have eluded me, one that has given me those three essential elements many times over: not a duty; truly a privilege. Available to me only because she has, like our unendingly patient horses, given me unlimited second chances when I mess up.

In my narrow-mindedness, I was looking for a piece of paper with a store- bought sentiment as an acknowledgement.  Instead, she chose me to share her whole life with. I was looking for the label. I had already been given the job.  Every horse-show dad already knows what I have only recently discovered.  I’m the last one to figure out things, sometimes, it seems. 

But, I eventually do. Happy Father’s Day, dads.
Perhaps a slow week for news back in 2007
 prompted fellow equestrian Caryn Eve Murray to
 write this story for Newsday which included
Sam and myself.
One of the perks: an awesome riding buddy!

No comments:

Post a Comment