Over the years I have let you inside my heart to tell you the pain and emptiness created by having no active father in my life.
The man who helped bring me into this world walked out on my mother when I was age three. He left a young wife, two children and no money behind when he moved on to his new family in Minnesota.
Growing up and playing sports without a dad just isn’t fair to a child. My dad never coached me or my brother and wasn’t there for any important moment in our lives.
I tried to act like it didn’t matter, but it did and still does. It still hurts 58 years later. A dad is supposed to be there for every practice and game. A dad teaches you how to win and lose with dignity. A dad is supposed to be there when you struggle at fatherhood.
A dad stands up for you when he needs to and sets you straight when needed.
Before he died more than 25 years ago, my dad tracked me down and asked if my brother Bob and I would visit him in Minnesota. I told him forgiveness began with him making good on the thousands of dollars in child support he owed my mother. The check never came, and we never went to see him before he passed away.
MOTHER NEVER GAVE UP ON US
I still struggle with this decision. I find myself fighting the true meaning of unconditional love and forgiveness when my heart is heavy.
What I did have in my life is a mother who never gave up on her children. She had little money but I was happy until my teen years when I became angry I didn’t have a Dad.
My mom tried to be the fan in the stands as much as she could. But having no dad at the games still stung.
There were many great men in my life who tried to guide me through the tough times in sports and the real world. They coached me on and off the field. The Little League coach who found time to be your summer dad when you had none.
The neighbor’s dad who found time to listen or give you a kick in the rear when you needed it. The high school coach who knew there was something there and would not quit on you.
I would not be the man I am today without the help of these great men in my life. With five kids of my own, I wish I had a dad to help me be a better man, husband and father.
It is tough when there is no blueprint or experience from which to draw. No matter how much I want, I can’t go back and live the childhood I dreamed of having.
I love to see the connection dads make with their kids. There is nothing better on this earth than knowing your children respect and love not only you but all they come to know and love.
We all know that look. That moment when our children don’t have to say a word and we know they get it. It isn’t just about sports. It’s that father-son, father-daughter moment we freeze inside our heads and hearts forever.
I had a lot of those moments with those coaches, parents and teachers who filled in for a young man without a father and helped me become the man I am today.
FATHER FIGURES, COACHES HELPED
Those father figures showed me it’s not always about winning and losing, but how you bounce back and handle adversity that will help you grow. Sports are a gateway to understanding life.
Becoming a divorced father of five has produced the most challenging moments of my life. Not being around your children full time created and still brings emotional land mines for every one of my children. Divorce isn’t fair or good for any child on earth. My only regret in life is that my kids had and have to live through a divorce. All I can tell any father is never give up on your children. Let them know you will never stop fighting for what is needed and good in their lives.
Even with 58 years worth of life lessons learned it still hurts today knowing I never had a dad in my corner fighting to keep me in his life. What does give me peace is the true understanding my mother did everything she could in her life to keep me and my brothers and sisters together. I love and respect what she did for us with no husband to help her through it.
Thank you Mom for being the Dad I never had.
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