To the Fathers

Today is Father’s Day!!! One of the best days of the year.

I’d like to address some of the newer fathers out there who read this blog. I’ve been a father for 30 years now. Looking back over that time, it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it’s definitely the part of my life that I’m most proud of. After all these years, I think I’m beginning to figure it out. At least a little bit.

I remember all the good times; and I also remember the bad…

I was in the delivery room for the births of all of my sons. On December 12, 1980, my son Joe was born. I remember the moment he came out. Bing Crosby was singing “White Christmas” on the radio. They had dimmed the lights in the delivery room—and Joe was born. I was literally weeping with joy. As a matter of fact, the nurses were crying too, just watching my reaction. My life changed that day. The only way I can describe it is like this: “Your child is the only person in the world who you would gladly give your life up for instantly—no questions asked.” If you’re a dad or a mom, you know what I mean.

I remember watching Joe running to me in a restaurant when he was about three years old. He didn’t see some steps and fell down a small flight of them. He came up with a bloody face, just crying his eyes out. I saw it coming, but couldn’t get to him fast enough to stop the accident. All he wanted was his dad. He saw nothing else.

I remember watching Clint on his first day of football practice. He was about seven years old. They put him in at quarterback. Every time he took a snap, he just stood there and got tackled. He didn’t understand that he was supposed to run. So, he started crying. Big, crocodile tears. He marched off the field and told me he quit. We had a talk, and he went back in.

And I remember years later, the day he scored four touchdowns in a single game with his cousin Ryan, right beside him in the backfield.

I remember putting my youngest son Brock in a windup swing in the living room when he was a baby. He would look at me for hours, and I looked right back at him. Both of us with smiles on our faces just staring at each other… His red, curly hair… I knew I’d never seen a more beautiful person in my life. My heart almost broke with the love I felt for him. And it still does today…

I remember when he fell in the garden and hit his two front teeth. They weren’t ready to come out yet, but they did. He had the hardest time saying his “L’s” because of these missing teeth. We had to get him a speech therapist several years later.

I remember the night when Joe and Clint, who at the time were 18 and 16, sat Leigh and I down and proceeded to tell us that we were the worst parents in the world because we wouldn’t let them stay out late like their friends. And I just smiled. I knew they didn’t understand. Those were hard years, but we persisted.

I remember the day when Clint ran in the house and told me that he’s put the car in drive instead of reverse and the car had run through our picket fence. I remember rebuilding that fence with him.

I remember the day he left for California when he was 18 years old with one of his high school friends, Austin. And how we prayed before he left. And how I cried for about four hours after he pulled out of the driveway. I had to take the whole day off. He was the first to leave. And he was back nine months later.

I remember Brock having two accidents during the first two months he was driving. I remember sitting in traffic court with him, coaching him on what to say to the judge. They weren’t bad accidents, but he did lose his license because of them several years later. I was proud of him, the way he respectfully talked to the judge that day. The prosecutor went out of her way to treat Brock well.

I remember Brock getting hired at a local restaurant as a busser. They didn’t really hire him, he just showed up and started working. A couple of days later, the General Manager asked him where his paperwork was. Brock hemmed and hawed, and said he didn’t have any. The GM figured it out—and hired him anyway. I think they call that the “Assumptive Close.” I laughed till tears ran down my face! Creative lad!!!

I remember when Clint called me and told me he was going to Alaska to go fishing on one of those commercial boats. And how he stayed in a shelter for the first few days because he had paid off all his bills and rent for the next three months, and only took $100 with him. And how, through persistence he finally got hired. There were so many stories he shared with me from that trip. And how proud I was (and am!) that he would actually do something like that. I love his sense of adventure.

I remember the day that I got a call at work from Joe’s principal. He’s been in a fight. He told me that he needed me to come down—that the police had been called. I remember the drive over; how mad I was. And then getting to the office, and there were all these boys sitting there—and the police. I was ready to take his head off. And then the principal told me that Joe had stepped in and had taken up for a smaller boy that a big group of guys had been picking on. And Joe had cleaned house! “Your son is a hero, Mr. Mallon.” Dang…

I remember the day that Joe checked himself into a drug rehab. How proud I was of him—and how my heart was breaking at the same time. And then getting to see him a couple of months later after he’d completed the program—he looked so healthy. He’s now been winning that battle for years. I could not be more proud of him. God let him go down a path that most people never travel, but now he’s using Joe for some very special purposes.

I remember watching him when he was in 9th grade and was just starting to wrestle. His first match was against a 12th grader. Leigh and I were so nervous. During the first round, Joe picked up his opponent, slammed him to the mat, and won the match. His team exploded onto the mat and carried him off on their shoulders. His opponent didn’t get up for about three minutes and we were worried for him. But we didn’t worry too much.

I remember the day that Leigh passed away. My wife; their mother. I just can’t write about that; it’s too personal. But we went through that together—holding one another up. At the same time knowing she was in a much better place. We walked side-by-side – that day, that week, that month, and now, those years. I’m their only parent now. But I know that Leigh sees what I see.

I look at my sons now, and I’m just filled with all types of emotion. But the two biggest ones are love and pride. They are men now! I couldn’t be more proud of who they’ve become.

Each of my sons have told me that I’m the greatest dad in the world. I know I’m not—far from it. But I’ve tried. I tried to be there for them, and guide them when necessary. I’ve cheered them on, and sometimes, I’ve had to lay down the hammer. I don’t need to do that so much anymore. It seems to have worked.

Yes, I remember all this, and so much more. There’s been a great deal of laughter, and quite a few tears. But I can tell you this—I wouldn’t have traded any of those moments for anything in the world. I embrace the good—and I embrace the bad too. Because “ALL” of it is what makes “it” special. Without the bad, you can’t celebrate the good.

So for my friends who are newer fathers than me. You too will enjoy the good, and you too, will experience the bad. You will have your own unique set of experiences to remember about your kids. It’s the greatest experience of life. Embrace it all.

And know this—These days shall pass.

Cherish them!

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