Tom was a busy man. He worked 10 hours a day and had a part time job. Being happily married for 8 years, Tom and his wife Lacy have been blessed with 2 beautiful children Michael 7 and Sarah 4. Tom adored his children, at least that is what he kept reminding himself to justify why he spent so much time away from home. Bills had to be paid, the house note was due, two cars, utilities, numerous credit cards, college student loans and on top of that, they had not even begun to invest towards their retirements or the children's college education.
"Dad" asked Michael, "Can we go to the park today?" "Not today," replied his dad, "I need my rest, see Daddy has been working all week and Sunday is the only day that I have to rest. But I promise Tuesday I'll come home a little early and we'll go to the park." Forgetting the disappointment of the moment Michael smiled with joy in anticipation of Tuesday's time with dad.
"Mom, where is Dad?" asked Michael. It's Tuesday and Michael has remembered his dads promise. "He will be here in a few minutes, he is on his way." The phone rings at that very moment. "I bet that is Daddy calling to make sure I'm ready huh Mom?" "Yeah I bet it is." said mom smiling. "Hello. Hi Tom, Michael is here. What? Oh Tom, but he is right here waiting. Ok, I'll talk with him." Michael hears all of his Mom's side of the conversation. He knows something is not right, but he just does not know what. Lacy hangs up the phone "How long until dad is here mom?" "Daddy can't make it today honey." Replies Mom, "He has had a very busy day and he has to work late to catch up." Well we can go when he comes home right?" asks Michael still wanting to spend time with his dad. "No honey not today." After work daddy needs to go to the gym, he needs to wind down a little." "Oh" sighs Michael as he began to walk away. Lacy stood there not knowing what to say. What was there for her to say?
"Hey sport!" yelled Tom as he entered into the house and picked up Michael placing him within his arms. "Daddy made it through another week." Michael could not help but to laugh as his father swung him in his arms. He did not really understand what his father meant, but he was happy just to be with his daddy. "Wanna go and get a milkshake with your Dad?" "Yep!" Michael yelled in excitement. Tom puts Michael down, kisses Lacey and watches Michael run to his room to put on his shoes. The Baskin Robbins is only 5 minutes away, but Michael didn't care. He just wants to spend time with his dad. As they got into the car Tom's cell phone rings. The entire ride to Baskin Robbins Tom remained on his cell phone talking to someone else instead of Michael. "May I take your order?" asked the woman behind the counter as Tom continued his conversation on the cell phone "Yeah, Get him a small chocolate shake, nothing for me." Michael didn't say a word to his father the entire ride home. How could he, his father remained on the cell phone the entire time. As they pulled up to the house Tom reached across his son, opened the door and said "Tell your mom that I have some work that I have to finish and I'll be home later." He closed the door behind Michael, leaving him standing in the driveway alone. "Thanks Dad." said Michael to no one there.
"Mom tomorrow is my t-ball game. I'm going to show you and daddy how good I am." "Daddy forgot that he needs to do work around the house tomorrow.," answered his mom.
"Mom, tomorrow we all go to Six Flags right?" asked Michael with excitement in his voice. "Yes, we are going, but daddy forgot that he has to work. But you , your sister and I will have a lot of fun."
"Mom tomorrow is my Junior High Wrestling match. I'm going to show you and Dad the new moves I've learned." "Dad forgot that he has a meeting with some co workers." is his mothers reply.
"Mom today is our championship football game. Dad said he will be there", says the 17 year old Michael, "but I know how that goes." "Hey." Says Michael's mom "Your dad supplies food and a place for you to live young man. Don't you speak about him that way. He really tries to come to your events." "Yeah, well his trying never seems to be doing." says Michael.
The lights are shining brightly upon the football field. The crowd is screaming, the cheerleaders are cheering, and 28, Michael is standing proudly on the sideline waiting for his offense to be called back upon the field. "If it wasn't for the pouring rain, tonight would be the perfect night", thinks Michael, "that and if Dad would not forget and actually come."
It's 7 pm and Tom is still sitting at his desk at work oblivious to the time. The crackling sound of the thunder startles him and he drops his pen. As he reaches down to pick it up a letter falls from his breast pocket "Dear Dad" it began, "I want to thank you for all that you have done. When I was younger I didn't understand. Sometimes I even thought I hated you. You couldn't take me fishing as much as I wanted, you couldn't come to all my games like I wanted and sometimes you couldn't even have dinner with us. But now I understand better. You weren't making your job the priority, all the time, it was the family being the priority. You worked to bring in the money that we needed to pay the bills and keep us safe. I'm sorry for some of the things I have thought in the past about you Dad. If you can't make it to the game tonight, I understand, you are taking care of the family. I realize now Dad that you never forgot. You were remembering to take care of us. Love your son." Tom felt the sting of the tears swelling in his eyes. He collected his paperwork into a neat pile and thought to himself that it can keep until tomorrow, deadline or no deadline. He closed his briefcase and began to walk out of his office. Almost out the door, Tom turns back around and looks at the paperwork on his desk. He walks back to his desk and pulls out his pen…
It's the fourth quarter, with only a few minutes left to play in the game. Michael keeps looking up to the stands. His mom is not sitting in her usual place. "Where is she?" he says out loud to his friend "There she is.", points his friend. "She is coming this way." Michael's heart pounds, happy that his mom has made it to his last game, forgetting the disappointment of her not being there sooner. Soon she is standing by the fence that separates the fans from the players. Michael looks at her drenched from the rain, but something is different. He hands are to her side, no umbrella and her chin is quivering but not from the chill of the rain. He walks toward her…
It is a slightly breezy and chilly Sunday. The trees are swaying gently from side to side. A group of people are standing in a circle on the plush green lawn slightly damp from the drizzling rain. A police officer makes his way to the middle of the circle and pulls something from his coat "Excuse me Ma'am. I found this on the night that this happened and I thought that you may want it." Lacy opens the letter and begins crying more as she reads it. Somehow, she is able to bring a slight smile to her face. She turns to Michael, "This is for you." "Dear Son. Thank you for understanding but I still must say that I am sorry. I thought that being a good father meant that I pay the bills on time, keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I thought a good father meant that I supply you with the physical things that you need and want in life. What I did not see was that what you wanted and needed most in life was time with me. So tonight I'm giving you what I always should have given you, my time."
Michael stood up from his chair, walked over to the rectangular whole in the ground, and whispered "Thanks Dad. You didn't forget."
(I know that often times we put our work, our time at the gym and our time with our friends ahead of our time with our family. Sometimes we do it purposely and other times we do it out of ignorance. We never know when we will be called home to be with the Lord. Let us remember, our children often times do not understand why we are absent, they only know that we are ABSENT. What do you say? Want to change their perception?)