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Covering All Bases: June 12, 2012

Father’s Day And A Lesson For Us All

“Watcha’ doin’ tonight, Ronnie? Why are you in such a hurry?”

I remember one of my friends asking me that question as I was fumbling around with all of my stuff, trying to leave work for the day. After the workday had ended I was trying to not be held up, yet my books, notes, and other stuff kept dropping on the floor and every moment spent collecting them was a few more seconds I was being delayed. I always seem to be the least organized when I’m in the biggest rush.

“I’m just going bowling,” I replied sheepishly, feeling that the call of the alleys probably didn’t justify my haste. “If I get there late, it could hurt the team.”

“Oh that’s cool,” my friend said. “Who are you bowling with?”

I wanted to reply that I had a hot date with an attractive supermodel, and maybe add that I have Gisele’s number on my speed dial, hence my haste in leaving.

“My dad and are on a team,” I said, answering honestly.

Perhaps sensing that my answer seemed half-hearted, almost as if I felt bad that I was bowling with my father and not going to the opening of an exciting, new club, my friend said something to me that I have not forgotten in the dozen years since this conversation took place.

“My dad died from cancer a few years ago,” he said, “And there isn’t a thing in the world that I wouldn’t give up to be able to go bowling with him tonight.”

I felt horrible as I realized that I was trying to hide an opportunity to spend time with a family member that he and countless others would love to have.

As we approach Father’s Day this weekend, I’m sharing this story to remind everyone of how precious our families are. I’ve had the opportunity to spend “quality time” with my parents, and have never regretted one moment of it. And “quality time,” does not have to be a trip to Disney World or an elaborate vacation. It can be as simple as a phone conversation, a dinner, or watching a ballgame together.

My father is a longtime Yankee fan. Although I spent my adolescent and teenage years cheering for the Mets, partially influenced by my mother who is from Queens and who was a teacher right near Shea Stadium, somehow I became a Red Sox fan, And yet, even though my dad is still a loyal and avid Yankee fan, when the two teams are not facing each other, he will pull for Boston, simply because they’re my team.

“What did I do wrong?” he jokingly responds when folks see us together as I wear a Boston cap and he dons a Yankee one. They question how fans of the rival teams can get along, yet his apparent disdain for the BoSox, is really a façade, because if his team doesn’t win, he wants mine to. As a side note, my mom still cheers for the Mets but also roots for Boston as well. Boy, the sacrifices that parents make for their kids.

It’s these moments that truly create memories. So whether it’s watching a game with my dad, or spending a few hours shopping with my mom, I have many happy times that I can cherish.

It may be a cliché, but in this hi-speed, technological society with emailing and social networking, it can be very easy to get wrapped up in the daily grind, and not pause for a few moments to appreciate what really matters.

Another colleague of mine, once remarked, that when people pass on from this life and move on to heaven, they never say that they wished they had spent more time in the office. Instead, they say they wish they spent more time with their families. How she knows this, I cannot fathom, but I do not question its accuracy.

So on Father’s Day, those of you who have the chance to do so, spend some time with your dads and appreciate every moment of it. And dads, even though it is your day, be sure to spend some time with your kids, creating the memories that last a lifetime. Have a catch, go for a walk in the park, or just sit on the porch, drink some iced tea and have an uninterrupted conversation about nothing in particular.

And on the day after Father’s Day and on all the other days of the year, keep the spirit of this with you, appreciating the simple little things you can do with your parents, children, grandparents, or other cherished family members.

And if you see a Red Sox and a Yankee fan together, and they’re actually getting along, well that’s probably my father and me.