Bill Knight column for Thursday, Friday or Saturday, June 16, 17 or 18
The likelihood a golfer will hit a hole-in-one is 12,500-to-1, actuaries say. My 88-year-old dad had six holes-in-one over a 10-year span, but he’s not the lucky guy. With a father like him, I’m the lucky one.
This Father’s Day, I feel like I won the lottery with him.
Further, being a father is a gamble with its own probabilities, and I think I beat the parenting bookmakers with a son like mine.
To mix metaphors, it’s like being struck by lightning twice.
In a good way.
Many children of any age probably share that sense of colossal luck, deep gratitude and intense fulfillment with parents, of course. And Father’s Day is a nice reminder that fatherhood is a generational game, an encounter to risk, one faced with the openness and willingness it provides.
As award-winning poet Pam Brown wrote, “Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, storytellers and singers of songs.”
As the dad of a 29-year-old man, I profoundly appreciate the decades we’ve shared.
As a father myself, I recognize the insight others have expressed.
Journalist and author Lafcadio Hearn wrote, “No man can possibly know what life means – what the world means – until he has a child and loves it. And then the whole universe changes and nothing will ever again seem exactly as it seemed before.”
Sometimes, my son needs a little help, like dog-sitting his lab/coon-hound mix or moving or – surprise – even advice. Sometimes, my pop could use a hand, too, maybe a ride to a Missouri surgeon, trimming bushes or cleaning thousands of rotting apples from beneath the tree in his front yard.
Often, I need them, too.
Having dealt with me and my brother, Dad offers suggestions on how to worry less about my adult child. (“Try to think of something else,” he says, laughing. “It doesn’t work very well, but it helps.”)
And I’ll always need my son, as voiced best by Albert Baltz in the Christian monthly “Joyful Noiseletter.”
Baltz wrote, “I’ll always need my son no matter what age I am. My son had made me laugh … made me proud … made me cry … hugged me tight … seen me fall … cheered me up … kept me strong … and driven me crazy at times!
“But,” he added, “my son is a promise from God that I will have a friend forever.”
That’s what friends are for – what fathers are for.
In friendly persuasions, I influenced my dad, a lifelong Cardinals can, to enjoy the Cubs. In return, the longtime Republican convinced me that though the GOP offered little this campaign year, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden would have been a preferred alternative to most of the field of all political parties.
In years of stellar performance as a basketball player, my son turned me from an ardent baseball purist who spent the winter exclusively attending to Hot Stove League speculation and pining for Spring Training, to a baseball fan who likes basketball.
I cherish mundane memories: vivid recollections of being a toddler “camping” on the living-room floor during a thunderstorm, with Dad reassuring me the storm would pass, or several years later pitching curveballs to him in the backyard; of carrying my sleeping son from the car to his bedroom, or reading King Arthur tales to him at bedtime.
Now, when I pray “Our Father who art in Heaven,” I think of all of the fathers on Earth, and all of the love. And I give thanks for the blessings of my father and my son.
Yes, maybe fatherhood’s a gamble – for dads as well as kids.
But the potential payoff is such a treasure; it’s more than worth playing the odds.