Father's Day. It's a day we show our dads how important they are and how much they mean to us.
I use to buy a card and a gift Dad didn't really want or need and we'd take him out to dinner or make his favorite meal for him.
Dad was worthy of so much more, like a hunting/fishing trip to Alaska or a Peterbilt truck that he could just use as a lawn ornament.
Instead he got what I could afford-another rinky dink T-shirt, his favorite cigars and a six-pack of Pepsi.
He'd grin and thank me. But I knew he'd prefer nothing because he told me so. It's just that there's something ingrained in us that we think we have to show our love by buying gifts.
I knew what he really wanted. He'd tell me every Sunday.
"Didn't hear from you all week. What's new?"
I heard the hidden message-"I sure would have liked to have had a phone call or a visit from you during the week."
And I'd vow that I would find time to stop in more often. But I didn't. Not until that last month after the surgery that was the beginning of the end. The thought that we might lose him became paramount to getting home early to start dinner, do laundry, curl up with a good book. Even then I didn't really believe he wasn't going to be around for another 20 years.
But life doesn't go the way we want it to. It has its own agenda.
Then the only precious gift I could give my dad and he could give me was time. If I had known that we only had a month left, I probably would have moved in with him.
Now Father's Day is bittersweet.
I continue to miss Dad as much as I did five years ago. I am thankful I had him for as long as I did but my sister says it best when she says, "He should be here."
So, since Dad can't be with us in body, we certainly keep him with us in spirit. There isn't a day I don't think about him. When the family is together, he is constantly referred to and talked about. It's our way of keeping his spirit alive.
This is from a child's point of view of Father's Day.
What about from father's themselves?
In talking to a couple of dads, I asked them what being a father has been like for them.
Dr. David Pierce has two children, Lindsey, 24 and Michael, 19. He is a huge Phillies baseball fan and they are taking him to a Phillies game as their Father's Day gift to him. He's looking forward to it, but not because he's going to get to go to a Phillies game.
"Time together with my kids is always special," he says. "It's not predictable when the magic happens."
Some of that magic happens when they're in the car, like going to a Phillies game.
"It's the conversations I have with them. We learn so much about each other."
Jim Manello says one of the best times he ever had with his son, Vinny, now 25, was when Vinny wanted a shed to put his four-wheeler in and they built it together.
"We had such a good time."
Another special time with his son was spent last year when they ran a half marathon together in Utah.
I can tell both men really love being around their children.
I know John Blundetto is loving being around his new tiny daughter. Our little Amazing Grace came home last Friday (3 lbs. 6 oz.) and John is going to be able to enjoy his first Father's Day with her in her own home.
Dave and Jim offer some advice for fathers, especially new ones like John:
"Two things you want to give your children are, unconditional love and serious guidance. Sometimes that comes under the heading of tough love. Also stress education. Career doors are open with education. Later they can decide what doors to shut," says Dave.
Jim says the important things he gave his son was advice and nurturing through his growing up years and helping him accomplish things he needed to accomplish.
"I taught him to be responsible for himself. I admire my son today. He's happy and doing things his way," says Jim.
But not everyone is fortunate enough to have dads like Dave, Jim, John and my dad.
I met Kathy Jones last week who has traveled many times to India and Peru. In December she spent three weeks in India and said she saw some of the most beautiful and the most horrible things.
One of the more horrible things she saw was the poverty. She said that visitors are bombarded by begging children wherever they went.
Her heart broke when she witnessed one youngster who apparently wanted to rest from begging and trotted back to where his father was. Instead of finding comfort and love, his father slapped and beat him, urging him to get back to begging.
Kathy says she thinks every teenager should spend a day in India and see what kind of life those children have.
"I think they would be far more appreciative of all they have here if they did."
Which should include mothers and fathers.
So, if you're lucky enough to still have your dad, show your appreciation and give him the gift he really wants, on Father's Day and every dayYou.