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June always brings images of “Dads and Grads” to mind, although, I must admit that neither of those things have a current bearing on my life in any substantial way. My father passed away fifteen years ago, and my nieces and nephews are past graduation age so the notion of “grads” isn’t even on my radar.
That being the case, the following incident took me by surprise. Recently I was on a long weekend walk with “the boys” (my two standard poodles Huertebise and Georges), and we happened upon a soccer field where young kids were engrossed in a heated match. I stood at the sidelines with what turned out to be the father of one of the players. The man’s son, Zack, was a heck of a player, and because he seemed to be the star of his team, the other team was bound and determined to take him out. He was getting the snot knocked out of him; I’m surprised that the ref didn’t call a foul. Or five. Zack’s coach called a time out, and on his way to the huddle, a beat-up Zack looked to his father for help.
“Don’t look at me!” his father shouted, sternly, adding, “You wanted this!” The father then turned to me, chuckling, “They don’t come with owners’ manuals; you know?” I smiled and agreed.
In that moment something unexpected happened: I saw how much that father loved his son and how he was more committed that Zack win at what he said was important to him, than that Zack like his dad or think that his dad was nice. The father was willing to be disliked in the service of providing for and protecting his son and raising a self-sufficient man.
I thought back to the times I wished my own father had been different; while my father was respected in the world — he was a forensic pathologist best known for his work on the Warren Commission following the Kennedy assassination — he often times seemed to stand separate and “coach from the sidelines” like this father at the soccer field had done with his son Zack.
I left the soccer field feeling fulfilled and once again connected to fathers — both the archetype of fathers and my own father himself. This month’s letter goes out as a special acknowledgement and thank you to fathers for all you provide. We’d be nothing without you.
Joel J. Loquvam
Attorney At Law
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