A Lifelong Father's Day Gift

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As far back as I can remember my dad was always into health and fitness. So when I joined the track team in junior high, my dad decided he would start running with me to help me improve my race times. Little did I know, or could I appreciate, this was actually an excuse to spend more time with me.

Donned in white Dolphin shorts he would shuffle alongside me, sharing his random stream of consciousness thoughts, typical of my dad. Eventually the random talks evolved into deeper conversations about his unconventional childhood as the son of Italian immigrants, stories I may not have not have heard if it had not been for our long runs. Somehow this topic assuaged my dad’s relational awkwardness and became a reliable go-to subject for he and I to connect. Over time, discussions about fitness and health became the foundation for our lifelong bond. Fast-forward to adulthood, those long runs are forever imprinted in my mind as the place where some of the best talks took place.  

Father's Day was a bit of a joke in our family. My dad would just shrug. Yea the gifts were nice but he resented how these commerce-driven ‘holidays’ felt artificial. Isn’t this something we should do every day, honor those we care about? It was much like he felt about health and fitness. Once a year won’t cut it. So struggling to find the perfect non-gift gift was a real challenge. Eventually the need to find the perfect gift fell away and Father’s Day morphed into an afternoon hike or sunset run along the beach, just dad and I. As long as there was physical activity, conversation flowed as effortlessly as the evening tide.

Now here it is, another Father’s Day. It’s been ten years since I lost my dad and days like this still sting. I am grateful health and fitness provided the bridge for our relationship and transformed a day built on neckties and barbeques into something more meaningful.

If you are still looking for a proper Father’s Day gift, consider taking a hike with your dad or son. Who knows; the gift of health and time together may be the best gift that is opened this year.

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