God’s hand is involved in every step of our lives. And so he was in meeting Keith. A friend of mine introduced me to his blog. I knew immediately that I should contact him to share a story with us on Real Imprints. I noticed that Keith was also writing a book through his blog about being a dad, and so I asked him to be our Father’s Day Guest post! His message is perfect and a great reminder that All Dad’s are Famous!
Earlier this year, my friend Scott was out jogging with his wife, Meg, when she was struck and killed by a reckless driver. Since then, I’ve looked at my own wife countless times, overflowing with life and smiles, and wondered – how does that happen. How does a man lose his wife like that? No brakes. No warning. How does he who promised to be there for better and worse get thrown into a nightmare without the one person strong enough to pull him out of it?
Since Meg’s death, I, like many people, have done a lot of reflecting. Through it I’ve come to see what a gift it is that I have two young boys clinging to their mom and not asking me why she’s disappeared. It’s a gift I see when I watch them toss a ball with her or trail behind her as she waters the flowers in our yard. I hear it when I listen to her tell them stories. I feel it when she hugs and kisses them before they go to sleep each night. It does make me wonder, what would being a dad be like if there wasn’t life in their mom.
Shortly after Meg’s death, I had a conversation with Scott that I now hear every day. I don’t know if I replay it or if God replays it for me, but I hear the conversation – Scott telling me how Meg always challenged him to be a better dad, and how he wonders if he’s lived up to that challenge.
Scott talked about the importance he’d always placed on his job as a police officer. Maybe too much importance, he wondered out loud. But standing there talking in that parking lot, surrounded by parked police cars, Scott told me this: “Being a great cop is still important to me. But now, I only want to be remembered for one thing. I want to be remembered as a great dad.”
Remembered as a great dad.
I heard those words echo as I drove away that day. I hear them echo even now as I write this article. They are words I might have dismissed as a man feeling the pressure of being the only parent his kids have left, but I don’t think that was much the case.
They were actually the words of a man who’d come to realize what I came to better understand that day. That I am too often guilty of letting this world convince me that a man’s legacy is written on office doors, street signs, or atop tall buildings. That his value is measured by paychecks and retirement accounts, his strength by the size of the steel plates he hoists above his head at the local gym. The praise for great men in this world is often piled high – Rockefeller Center or Henry Ford Hospital high. Yet, it would seem the notoriety for great dads pales in comparison; you’ll be lucky to find a vacant lot or a moldy basement named for one of them.
What I’m coming to believe, though, is that’s exactly the way it should be. Dads write their greatness in the quiet corners of the hearts of their children. No flashing lights. No oversized letters. In doing so, they gladly abandon fame and fortune for a simple smile or a hug. The kind that feels more famous than sitting on top of the New York Times bestseller list or on the front of a Heisman Trophy. I’ve felt that kind of famous many times since becoming a dad, enough so that I wonder if it could possibly feel more gratifying to actually be famous.
And do you want to know the most beautiful part about that? There’s a lot less pressure feeling famous than being it. It simply requires me to redirect my time.
Like spending more time tossing a baseball in the front yard with our two boys. Believe me, there is nothing more famous. Just try to convince them I’m anyone other than All-Star pitcher Stephen Strasburg – they’ll never buy it. Or that they aren’t home run slugging Bryce Harper or every day’s a gold glove Brandon Phillips. We are the major leaguers no one boos. There are no talks of trades – we love our team. Together, we plug away at the long season and win the World Series every year without leaving our yard. And the baseball cards we draw of ourselves, well they’re priceless, even if we’re the only ones who want to collect them.
Or maybe volunteer more in my son’s elementary school classroom. The reception I get there, at least from my son, is the reception the President of the United States would get if he or she walked into any classroom in America. But unlike him – or her – my only obligation is a simple hug. No time crunch to return to Air Force One. No pressing conversations with Iraq or Syria. No healthcare laws to defend. Even still, on that day, don’t try to tell my son or me I’m not the President. You’ll be wasting your breath.
Other days, I might spend my time furthering their beliefs I’m the biggest, fastest, smartest or funniest man alive. Whatever best-in-the-world trait our boys choose to assign me that day doesn’t matter, though, because they always leave me feeling famous.
I confess, even though I know better, too many days I’m lured away from the famous father feeling to pursue the never ending cultural call to be a famous anything else. But my friend Scott has reminded me to ask myself more frequently these days – what do I want to be remembered as. The beauty about your children remembering you as a great father is they assign you a special kind of fame that doesn’t die. It lives on in the lessons they’ll teach their children. It lives on in the way they treat their spouses or friends and neighbors. Unlike the fame that crumbles with tall buildings or disappears into the fading color of an old street sign, our kids keep us famous forever.
So this Fathers Day, I’m with Scott. It may seem too simple, but all I want to be remembered as is a great father. And when I am, I will proudly join the ranks of the famous!
Article written by: Keith Cartwright
Keith has written an imprint story about Scott and Meg. You can read that story HERE!
Please follow Keith on his blog http://www.thebookofdadverbs.com/
This post first appeared on Real Imprints.