I Didn’t Get Here by Myself
A year ago, the pandemic dictated that I “pivot” and begin working virtually. So, like many of you, I have worked from home almost every day since. As empty nesters, that means that my wife and I have spent many more hours in our home together. That change in our circumstances caused us to readjust our schedules and interactions to reduce any stress that might result. Fortunately, in our case, we have tried to keep focused on the positives. This year has rekindled my gratitude for the value of our relationship and the time we spend together – especially in this month when we will celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary.
Coincidentally, I just underwent some outpatient surgery which required my bride to be my caretaker once again. I am reminded of a similar situation which occurred almost ten years ago and enlightened me to write the Epilogue to my book, Be There Dad. I want to share it with you again.
Perhaps my experience will remind you, too, of the tremendous value of the relationships with our partners; and how their presence remains a constant, no matter the challenges we face. They give us the hope and courage to battle through this pandemic; knowing that when it finally passes, once again, “they will be here when we come out.”
travel back with me to a time in 2012…
My Field of Hope
The doctor told me I needed some minor surgery. Although the procedure could be done on an outpatient basis, he informed me that they would still have to give me anesthesia and they would have to “put me under”. He assured me that “if all went well”, it would take only a couple of days for me to recover. Blessed with a life of good health, so far, I was not familiar with surgical centers or the procedures that go on there. Despite the doctor’s assurances that my procedure was not risky, I knew that whenever there is anesthesia involved and doctors enter your body, things can go wrong. So, I was a bit nervous.
The day of the surgery came. As expected, my bride of over thirty years grabbed her car keys and took charge. She instructed me to get in the van and she drove. At the surgical center she sat next to me while we waited for “my number to be called”. She remained at my side in the pre-surgery area, waiting patiently as the IV dripped and the moment for my surgery approached. Was I warm enough, or did I need another blanket? When the time to go came, she gave me a kiss, squeezed my hand and told me “I will be here when you come out”. These were the truest words I have ever heard.
The surgery was quick, successful and without complication. The wonders of today’s drugs allowed me to miss the entire event. The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the recovery area, fully dressed and ready to go home. I looked up and saw her face. Just as she had promised, she was there when I came out. Instinctively knowing that I should not bend over, she leaned down and tied my shoes, nurturing me through a mundane task as only a mother can do.
The balance of my recovery period went surprisingly smooth and without complication. As the effects of the drugs subsided and I sat quietly, I was reminded how that day was a reflection of my life. As I face the events of each day, sometimes familiar and sometimes entirely new and unexpected, I can never be absolutely sure how the time will end. Sometimes the day passes without complication or calamity. Sometimes there are bumps and at other times I run into brick walls.
But on each of those days, there is one thing that I can always count on. My wife will always be there. Together for over thirty years, my surgery was the most recent reminder of the love and support that I receive every day. No matter what happens, my wife is always there. Long ago she committed to love me unconditionally. She committed to love me no matter what…. in sickness and health…. for better, for worse…. she promised to stay by my side. In my struggle for success, she has always believed in me without hesitation. Whether building a business, coaching soccer or seeking to help dads, she has stood next to me, instilling comfort and confidence. Despite the challenges of living with an irrepressible optimist who has “pitched his tent in the field of hope”, she has been a willing roommate. But just as importantly, when necessary, she has gently placed her hand on my shoulder and suggested that I “slow down” or “think again before I say that.” She is my guardian angel who seeks to protect me from danger. She holds a compass that helps me find my true north.
We Are Not Doing It Alone
As Be There Dads, one of the struggles we share is our desire to “do it by ourselves”… through every challenge and situation. Yet, for most of us, we are not doing it alone. We have a partner who supports us, believes in us, encourages us and loves us no matter what. She will prod us when we are unsure, pick us up when we stumble, and forgive us when we leap before we look.
When we begin the journey towards becoming Be There Dads, the first step we take is to realize that presence is the key…. just being there… staying close to our kids… is the most important thing we can do. Perhaps we miss the point that a similar presence makes a difference in our lives as well. We often take for granted the power of the presence of the one with whom we have chosen to share our lives. Before we have children, while we raise them, and after they leave our nest, that presence makes a difference. We did not get this far alone.
In our roles as their heroes, Be There Dads talk about how our daughters often seek to marry someone just like us. Recognizing that, we work to be the models for our yet unidentified sons in laws. From my behavior, I hope my daughter will see how I cherish the relationship with her mother and how I understand that the challenges of marriage, family and life itself are easier when shared with someone who loves you without question.
To Be There Dads everywhere, I ask you to take a moment to think about that presence in your life. Remember the feelings of comfort, confidence and caring that come from having her in your life and be thankful. Perhaps you can find a way to show her one more time how much that all means to you.
After one Be There Dad workshop, among the written evaluations was one that pointed out my obvious optimism and questioned whether I could see life objectively. For over thirty years I have awakened knowing that no matter what that day may bring, certainty or ambiguity, success or failure, good news or bad, heartache or celebration; there is at least one person who will always “be there when I come out”… and for me, that is reason enough to have hope.