By Carolyn Rosenblatt
AgingParents.com, R.N., attorney, mediator
My son, who is in his 20’s, called recently and asked what ideas I had about what he could do for Dad on Father’s Day. He lives at a distance and can’t come home this time.
He’s a struggling entrepreneur starting an Internet marketing business and, like most folks starting a business, he’s cash strapped. I did’t want to suggest any material thing he has to buy with his already too-high credit card debt.
So, I said this:
“How about taking the time to think about all the ways Dad has been thoughtful, kind, supportive and encouraging in your life and write to him about them, and how you appreciate him. Review some of the countless times he went out of his way for you. Recall how he always put kids first and asked so little for himself.
“Remember all the times he showed up for the awards you got in school, for your soccer games, your play, your DJ performances. He was there for just about everything important you’ve done.
“Think about how he never complained about working hard and putting in those hours year after year as a psychologist, dealing with tough stuff like other people’s anxiety and depression.
“He always made the time to listen patiently to you, no matter what and no matter how long a day of listening he’d already had. How about thanking him for the countless times he’s done that and still does?
“Maybe you can just sit down and write to him about what a fabulous father he is, no matter what faults he may have. Tell him you love him and appreciate him from the bottom of your heart and that you would not be the man you are without all he has taught you.
“That letter would be a wonderful gift to give Dad. It would mean more to him than anything you could buy.”
My son said, “Mom, you always think of such sweet things. That’s a great idea.”
And so, on Father’s Day, I look forward to what our son will say to the man I married. I love my husband for all the reason the kids do, and more. I see what a great Dad he is and has been for 30 years. None of us are perfect parents, but we all try our best. He always tried with good intention to put a lot into fatherhood. He knows a few things some Dads don’t. One of them is that you need to show up for your kids a lot more than you need to get them a lot of material objects.
As for anyone reading this, think about how we don’t acknowledge our Dads or even one another enough. It doesn’t take too much time to write down that we appreciate someone. You can make it a brief note or a longer letter. Tuck it in a Father’s Day card or email it in time. There probably isn’t a Dad out there who wouldn’t like to hear that his kids noticed all he has done, whether quietly or not, and that he is valued for who he is.
And if your Dad is gone, as mine is, I just say all those good things to him in my heart and I imagine him hearing me and smiling.
Until next time …
Together with her husband, psychologist Dr. Mikol Davis, Carolyn Rosenblatt is a founder of AgingParents.com, a resource for families located in San Rafael. Together they provide expert advice and dispute resolution services to individuals, families and institutions. She is the author of “The Boomer’s Guide to Aging Parents,” a help for those who are taking on the caregiver role in their lives. She has a personal mission to protect elders, keep their caregivers in emotional control and to instill confidence in all of us as we face the challenges of aging.