Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Father To His Son - Happy Birthday Luke

Twenty Six years ago today I inherited, what I consider to be, the most responsible and greatest title a man could ever have bestowed upon him. On December 3, 1982, I forever became known as “Dad.”

And so today I pause, not only to wish my son, Luke James Lewis, a Happy 26th Birthday (Hey! That means you’re now embarking on your second quarter century my son … and you call me “Old Man!”), but I also reflect and give honor to Our Father in Heaven, the founding Father’s of the United States of America and my greatest hero, Herbert H. Lewis … my Dad!

We all know the lessons of the Founding Fathers. The hardship, the battles, the great vision, fortitude, and the incredible qualities, character, perseverance, and brilliance it took to create this great country.

Those are the lessons that my grandfather learned and passed on to my father. Those two generations paved the way, and brought us, some of the greatest inventions known to man. They fought World Wars to protect and secure our freedoms. It was a day when a 40 hour work week was considered part time.

My father and mother raised us in a close-knit Catholic community, where doors were left unlocked at night; backyard were flooded for makeshift hockey rinks in winter; front yards became baseball diamonds in the summer, and the streets were commandeered as touch football fields in the fall.

I never heard my father complain nor utter one single curse word. I’m afraid that’s something my son Luke can never claim about his father. He taught his children to appreciate the values of self-discipline, of respect, and of loyalty to friends and family.

The lessons my Father passed down to me, and I in turn instilled upon my son, were based upon those core principles. They were based upon the same values, preparation, discipline and accountability.

Unfortunately the Baby Boom Generation, which I am a part of, began to take our freedoms and these principles for granted. I saw how hard my father worked and sacrificed for the sake of his family. I began to look at all the things that I could of, and should of, had. I knew how much I missed my father while he was off working, even though he provided me, as well as, my five siblings so much of his very limited and precious time and hard earned dollars.

So even though I passed these lessons on to my son Luke, as well as, my daughter April, and my step daughters Jessica and Amanda, I sometimes ended up being (at times) more a friend than a father. I was way too lenient and bought them far too much. But I did also hug them a lot and, always, told them that I loved them. I realize that I was much more emotional with my son (and daughter), because I knew how much I missed that when my Dad was off working.

Even still, I always set the example of ‘work hard and play hard’. My 30 years, of mostly 50 plus hour work weeks, in corporate America, mixed with playing music on weekends as a second income, all while continuing to be involved with the children’s schooling and activities, were my lessons in action. Which leads me to one of my favorite sayings, as well as, a very important lesson ...

Talk is cheap and action speaks louder than words.

When my son was preparing to join the U.S. Air Force in 2002, I asked him to name for me three main principles, he had learned, that will carry him forward into a successful future. His response brought a tear to my eye, because he nailed it:

“Work and Study Hard, Laugh Often, Keep Your Honor!”

Today, I am also reminded of Tim Russert, who passed away this past June. Russert wrote “Big Russ and Me”, an important book about his father, that opened up a flood of feelings for sons who have fathers who have played an important role in their lives.

His follow up book “Wisdom of Our Fathers” was evidence of the nationwide connection between his experience with his father and so many sons who cherish their relationship with their father. His third book was written about himself as a father and his son Luke.

All three books are worth the read and I recommend them wholeheartedly to everyone.

Now my son Luke has his own son and a long road ahead to pave. Dylan Jacob Lewis, although just over two years old, is already beginning to learn these lessons.

Today, however, they’re calling em “Time Outs!”

If my father were alive today, he’d have a good belly laugh over that one … and then ... in one motion, while whipping off his belt, he’d surely say: “I’ve got a timeout for you!”

Happy Birthday Son!

It has been an eventful and deeply satisfying journey!


Andy said...

What a wonderful tribute to Luke - you both should be so proud.....

Fernando Nieves said...

Awesome tribute my friend, and Happy Birthday to Luke.

Your friend,

Luis Fernando Nieves