By Michael Norton
One of the greatest tributes to a father can be found in the Dan Fogelberg song, Leader of the Band. The last part of the song has always meant something special to me…
“I thank you for the music and your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go
I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough
And papa, I don't think I said I love you near enough
The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy to the leader of the band
I am a living legacy to the leader of the band”
This certainly speaks to the love and admiration of his father and was sung in such a way that it usually brings a tear to my eye every time I hear it. And as we approach Father’s Day, I often find myself thinking about this song and hope that my own children would think of me in a similar light, because as I have always tried to live up to my own expectations of being a father while still being their dad.
There are so many other songs that pop into my head especially around Father’s Day like, Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle, or Walk Like a Man by Bruce Springsteen. And whether they are listened to around Father’s Day or at any other time of the year, they remind me of just how much I loved my grandfather and how much I love my children, each one, all of them, in their very own way.
Our children are a gift, a blessing, and a joy. They also come with challenges, drama, and parenting opportunities throughout their lives. They truly bring us joy with their silliness and they can bring us incredible pain with mistakes and choices they make. And whether it is joyful silliness or drama and sadness, the one thing I do know about being a father is the feeling of unconditional love. If we are lucky enough to receive unconditional love from them, that is wonderful and amazing. But the unconditional love I am referring to and that is such an awesome feeling is the unconditional love for them as their father.
Regardless of the mistakes and poor choices they may have made, and despite the anger we may have felt or angst that they put us through, as a father there is just no greater feeling than loving your children and loving them unconditionally. As I look back on my own poor choices, mistakes, and errors in judgment over my entire life, I have even greater love and appreciation for my children and for their drama and mistakes, as most times they were nothing in comparison to my own. I’ll bet you can appreciate that too.
There are many among us who have lost a child, and I cannot even imagine what that must feel like. Some were lost to accidents, some to illnesses, and some to other circumstances such as drugs or alcohol or depression. My heart breaks for those of you who have had to experience that as it truly must be so difficult on days such as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. And here is where that unconditional love comes in again. Pain and grieving are very real, yet so is unconditional love and finding a way to focus on a memory, a beautiful memory, a smile, a laugh, or just all the good and happy times. A father’s love finds its way to forgiveness and finds its way to unconditional love.
Father’s Day is a special day to be honored and remembered as a father and as a dad, but it is also a day to honor and remember the people who call us father, dad, pop, or papa. As always, I would love to hear your story at email@example.com and when we can experience that feeling of unconditional love for our children, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is a resident of Manasquan, the Executive Vice President of Sandler Training, the President of the Zig Ziglar Corporate Training Solutions Team, Strategic Consultant, Business and Personal Coach, and Chief Ice Cream Evangelist at Norton’s Main Scoop.