This week I had the pleasure of being invited to attend The Celebration of Dads at my local Ronald McDonald House in my home town of Toronto. It was an honor to be asked to attend this event because I, like many, had no idea what really went on behind the wrought iron gates that secured this 100,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility. I knew they helped families cope as they sought medical attention for their sick children for illnesses that require months of treatment and rehabilitation, but I had no idea just how much they helped. It was a real eye opener, and I hope you will look in to this amazing charity that gives hope and dignity and support to so many families in need. It is a charity we should all get behind, even if it’s for selfish reasons, knowing that at any time we might need this type of support for our own children and ourselves.
But Ronald McDonald House wasn’t the only thing I learned about at this event. What I really learned about was perseverance, not just from dads with sick children, but dads of all walks of life; dads fighting for their children’s lives every day. I spoke to dads of ill children, of course, but I also spoke to dads fighting for children being abused as well. I spoke to lawyers helping dads fight for their rights to see their children after divorce, and dads who will never give up until they get to see their kids again. This was an event for Ronald McDonald House, but it was an event in support of dads as well. It brought only a small group of us together, but I for one took more out of it than I ever thought I would. Again, it was an honor to attend this amazing event, but why do I mention it here?
I mention it because Father’s Day 2012 has come and gone, and as I hold the new baseball glove I got from my wife and daughter, or you hold the new chain saw, or tie, or iPad you got as a gift, I’d like us to stop and think about what dads really want for Father’s Day. Sure, gifts are nice, and it’s nice when your family shows you how much they appreciate your contribution, but we both know the most important thing to you on any day of the year is knowing your family is happy, healthy and safe. We never want to think about our kids getting sick, but they do. We don’t want to think about ourselves getting divorced, but it happens. We never want to think about new people entering our children’s lives and hurting them, but it does happen, and the law is not always on our side.
I, for one, mean it when I say “I don’t want anything for Father’s Day” other than for my children to be safe, always; healthy; and happy. That’s all I want. I want the smile that is on my daughter’s face to be there forty years from now. I want the innate joy that she has to grow and never be thwarted. I want her to live without fear and face whatever life has to throw at her, knowing someone will always have her back, and never let her fall. I won’t always be there to protect her, but I am resolved to always do whatever it takes to make certain I have done everything in my power to ensure my children know they are loved and their father has done everything in his power to keep them safe.
I’m a simple man. I do not want for much. I need for nothing. All I ask is to be able to live to see my children grow in to thriving adults, who are good to other people, because they had the opportunity to know what being good, and fair, and kind to other people is all about. I like knowing that there are people whose generosity will help see them there, and people whose humanity will help teach them by example.
I guess what I’m saying is there are many worthwhile charities and organizations out there that exist to help our kids; organizations that are out there to help us to help ourselves to be better fathers, and parents, and people. I don’t want anything for Father’s Day other than to see my children and these organizations thrive so I know I leave the world a better place when I’m gone.
Sure, I don’t mind getting a card every once in a while to tell me how I’m doing, but next year, when you think of getting me, or any other dad something that he really wants for Father’s Day, remember the great charities and organizations like Ronald McDonald House that give dads what they really want… a great back up system for those rainy, turbulent days when they can use all the help they can get.