As families gather to celebrate Father’s Day today, let me share a very vital reminder that I got from a decision that another father made a few weeks ago. It was a decision about what really matters in life. He answered the question of what really is important.
Some of you, later this afternoon will watch, if the weather corporates, the closing round of the U.S. Golf Open from the Erin Hills Golf Course in Wisconsin. One famous golfer you will not be watching is Phil Mickelson. He has decided not to participate in the Open this year.
It is not that the Open is not important to him. In fact, it is the only “Major” in golf that he has not one. He has come as close as second but never won. He said, “It is a tournament I want to win the most.” But for this year he has taken himself out of the competition. Time could be seen as becoming an issue for him ever winning the Open as he is just a few year shy of 50.
But he has taught all of us an important lesson by his decision not to participate. Today his oldest daughter is graduating from High School in California. That is half way across the country from where the Open is being played in Wisconsin. He choose to be with his family for that very special occasion rather than trying to win his first Open.
What he demonstrates for us all is the need to make sure we have our priorities in the right place.
In life we can be so busy making a living that we miss out on life itself. We can miss something that can never be reclaimed again, reaching for something that really is not all that important.
The first Father’s Day I would find a record of was on July 5, 1908. It followed the first Moher’s Day by one year and happened about 15 miles down the road from where Mother’s Day started in Fairmont, West Virginia. It was held in the Williams Memorial Episcopal Church South. It followed a terrible mining accident that had killed 361 miners, of which 250 were fathers. And this first Father’s Day was in their honor.
It didn’t stay long in July as the completion with the 4th of July was too distracting. So in a few years it was moved to June where it has stayed on the third Sunday of June. Lyndon Johnson issued the first Presidential Proclamation calling for the third Sunday in June to be Father’s Day. In 1972, Richard Nixon signed a law making this observance a national holiday.
Today is the day, we stop to honor the fathers of our nation. If you are fortunate enough to still have a living father, hopefully you can spend some time with him today. As one who no longer has my father with me, I realize how important the time I got to spend with him was. And I wish I had more time. Take some time today to reflect on what you learned from your dad. Honor his memory by living by the ideals he shared with you.
If you are a dad, realize the time you can give to your children is a precious gift that will bring great dividends for years to come. That is the lesson that Michelson’s example is teaching us. When you make an effort to be a part of your children and grandchildren’s life, you will be helping to create memories that will long out live you.
Having a special a day is a reminder of how important fathers are to our world. One of the real social issues of the 21st century is the absent father. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children are growing up without their biological father in their household. There are a variety of reasons for this statistic, but that would take a series of columns to deal with.
The reason I mention this statistic is to challenge the fathers who read these words, to be involved with their children and grandchildren any way they can. Today is not only a day to celebrate what fathers do but for fathers to be challenged to make sure their priorities are in the right order.