In about an hour, my husband and I will start getting dressed for a Father’s Day brunch with four of our five children–number five, who lives in Manhattan, will be missing in person but with us in spirit.
There are many things one can say about the role of fathers or stepfathers in the lives of their children, and we will hear many of them today, if for no other reason than the fact the media will bombard us with Father’s Day sentiments. But I was struck this morning reading remarks made by Newark Mayor Cory Booker to the graduating class at Bard College. Booker–who is one of the truly impressive public servants of our time–shared a contemplation on the wisdom of his father, and I think it is well worth sharing.
“My dad would always tease me: ‘Boy, don’t you walk around here like you hit a triple. You were born on third base, boy.’ ..I drink deeply from wells of freedom and liberty that I did not dig. I eat lavishly from banquet tables prepared for me by my ancestors. I sit under the shadow of trees that were planted and cultivated and cared for by those who I will never know.”
The really good fathers, the ones who make a lasting difference, are the good citizens who–without celebrity or fanfare–protect our liberties, participate in building our communities, and plant trees under which they will never sit, trees that will shadow their children and grandchildren. Those really good fathers raise children who acknowledge their debt to those who have plowed the ground they plant, and accept their own obligation to “pay it forward.”
Our children have been blessed to have a father/stepfather like that.
Have a great Father’s Day.