First of all, Happy Father's Day to all of you who are Daddy to someone. It is a wonderful day. You are an unsung hero, a knight who has rescued your children over and over again from the boogerman under the bed, a dentist who had bravely grabbed a loose tooth that just won't give way to little fingers, a tooth fairy who waits till a little one is asleep and slips coins under a pillow in exchange for the tooth you pulled early in the day.
You are the teary-eyed slob who finds a little jar of those same teeth 15 or 20 years later and stand with a crooked smile as you remember each one and the darling child that lost it.
You are the one who lays in bed at night, listening to the giggles and, with a stern voice tell children to go to sleep. You are the one who grins and giggles as you lay in bed with your darlin', after they have settled in, knowing that you are more bark than bite.
You are the one that lays in the same bed, waiting till they return late in the night... listening for the sound of a car engine, a car door opening and a front door closing. You are the one who gets up, puts on a robe and goes to calmly speak, holding your anger when they come home hours late, or drunk, or worse.
You cry when you hold them for the first time, when you dance a wedding dance and hold a daughter, newly married, when you hold a child who has died too young, when you salute a coffin of one who served loyally and died in service to the country you both love. You are the one who pulls your wife away from a coffin so it can be lowered into a cold grave.
You wipe the tears, thinking no one sees what a softy you are... wanting to preserve the facade you have worked so hard to build over the years, not knowing that they laugh when they are together, with tears in their eyes, reminding each other of what a softy you are in spite of your bluster.
You are the one forgotten for some boy, no longer the hero, no longer the apple of a little girl's eye when a beau comes into her life. You are the one who seems not as big, not as strong, not as immortal when sons rise up and go to join a wife.
You are the one that tells a prodigal they must leave, who stands behind the closed door, the door that you closed behind them because it was time, because they were a disruption and disaster with the decisions they made. You are the one who welcomes them home, who kills the fatted calf when they find their way.
You are the one who holds their hair back as they bow before a toilet bowl and loose the contents of a drunken stomach, swearing they'll never drink again, listening as they cry and beg forgiveness.
You are the one who awkwardly holds a grandbaby, remembering when you held your own. You are the one who magically pulls quarters from behind ears, who watches cartoons for hours with your children's children.
You are the one forgotten, the one who might get a card... or might not, of whom they say,"he doesn't really like that mushy stuff". You are the one who gets the collect call, who is forgotten at Hallmark, who is told in divorce hearings that the mother is more important to the well being of a child. You are considered the less important parent.
If they only knew... if they only knew.