Father’s Day is More than a Hallmark Day
A cohesive, nurturing, successful family doesn’t happy by accident or overnight. The foundation for the four generations I’m proud to call my family—four kids, twenty grandkids, and three great-grandkids—began a long time ago.
Just as my parents taught me, I have tried to pass on some fundamental values with my wife, Phyllis, right by my side. We value family, friends, and community. We share in the good and bad. We hold our faith in God close. Phyllis and I have taught our children our beliefs by living them, day in and day out.
As the Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
But what about the times we don’t know which way to go? How do we show our children the way when we ourselves aren’t certain? After all, children are always learning from us, even when it’s not smooth sailing. I can tell you that from personal experience.
In 1983, I purchased a sixteen-foot catamaran—a small sailing boat with two pontoons connected by a big trampoline—and took my first grand voyage. What an uplifting moment! I was eager for another adventure the next day, this time with my daughter, Michelle, and her friend.
We donned our wetsuits and life jackets and set off, our boat skimming across the waves. A mile out, we were really flying! We couldn’t even see people on the shore anymore. Then—crisis! We hit a huge swell and did what’s called a “pitch pole dive.” The boat flipped over, nose first. Fortunately, we knew how to right the boat. Unfortunately, we realized we couldn’t right the boat because the pontoons were taking on water!
My heart sank as I remembered the catamaran salesman’s final instructions: “When you leave your boat overnight, be sure to remove the plugs from the pontoons; otherwise, someone might maliciously remove them,” he warned. “But be sure to put them back or your pontoons will fill with water and you won’t be able to upright the boat if it flips.”
That’s exactly what happened. In the excitement to sail, I had forgotten to replace the plugs. I was honest with the girls about my mistake and told them we had to make a difficult choice. We could try to make the swim to shore or stay with our sinking boat and hope that Phyllis, who had been watching us with binoculars, had called for help.
Minutes went by without any sign of a rescue, the catamaran inching lower in the water. After an hour, we made the tough decision to go for it. We said a prayer and began our long swim back, staying close and feeling very grateful for our wetsuits and life jackets.
About two hundred yards from shore, help finally arrived.
“No! Let me swim!” Michelle called to the lifeguard. She had come so far, she didn’t want to be rescued!
Thankfully, we had made it back. Soon after, the Coast Guard showed up and towed the catamaran to shore—and I never forgot the plugs again!
This story has become one of my daughters’ favorites. We were able to make the best of a frightening experience through trust, faith, and a sense of humor—values long upheld by me and Phyllis. Thanks to that sinking catamaran, I got the opportunity to model honesty, accountability, and a positive attitude. And I learned something, too: my daughter is resilient!
That day brought us closer together—just as every day can if we live it well.
Happy Father’s Day,