March 6, 2024

When I was a small child the synapses in my brain finally linked up and I realized that I had a whole life in front of me – and that I’d eventually need to get a job. So, I churned through all the possibilities little boys consider. Maybe I would become a fireman or police officer. Or how about a doctor, astronaut, cowboy, professional baseball player or even President of The United States?  But above all else, whatever path I chose, like all sons, I was anxious that my dad would be proud of me. Being a bit of a chatterbox, I know I must have bounced all my career options off him constantly – probably driving him to distraction.  And yet, perhaps sensing I was worried about disappointing him, my father took me aside one day and told me, “Stephen, even if you become a garbageman, I’ll always be proud of you.” 

I would become none of things I imagined I’d be as a child. Point of fact, my life took many circuitous turns before I finally grew up – which I’m sure drove Dad a bit nuts – but I always knew in my heart that he was always there for me. I’m sure my brother Mark feels the same way. Our father may not have always said what we wanted to hear, or did what we thought needed doing, but he was always there for us when it counted. When I published my first book in 2008 and was caught up in the glare of the cameras, many people said to him, “You must be so proud of your son.” And he was, but then again, I knew he had always been proud of me and my brother. We were his sons, and nothing would ever change that. 

Even though dad lived eighty-one and a half years and had a full life, it’s still very tough to realize that I will never see him on this earth again. What keeps me standing on my two feet is my hope that, in the end, “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” And, when I had a moment alone with him before he died, I kissed Dad on his forehead and said, “I’ll see you later.” That is my faith. 

Some people, of course, think such talk is delusional and that there is no way to prove any of this God and eternal life stuff. But as a wise man once said, “Faith is not believing in something you cannot prove. Faith is the assurance that someone is there.” My Dad in that simple yet complex role of being a father, laid the foundation for my faith in a loving universe – just by being there.  I can only hope I can do same for my own daughter. So, thank you for being proud of us Dad. We were certainly proud of you. And even though we may not sense it now, you are still there for us. 

I’ll see you later. 

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