Give Dad the best present

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

I have always been leery of bumper cars, an aversion that dates back to an experience as a kid.

It was a frosty Sunday morning during the winter. My folks and I had gone to Mass and were headed across the Lewis and Clark Viaduct to the Roma Bakery in Kansas City, Missouri. Every week, we’d pick up eight loaves of Italian bread — six for the nuns and residents at St. John’s Home, and two loaves for our meal, shared with my maternal grandparents, uncle and assorted relatives who would drop by.

This particular Sunday was different. As we drove across an exposed overpass, Dad lost traction, due to a coating of ice on the roadway. Thankfully, he was driving at his usual speed — think tortoise-like, only slower. Bang! We slid into the right side of the overpass and drifted a few feet forward. Bang! We hit the left side and skidded a few more feet forward. Bang! Back to the right. Bang! Back to the left. After several more bangs, we left the overpass behind.

Believe me: When you play bumper cars with an overpass, it will make you a nervous wreck.

Well, that’s true for everybody but my dad, who remained calm through the whole ordeal that day. He steered us through without a scratch — sadly, not so much for the car — and proceeded to the bakery as usual.

Even though my dad died almost 36 years ago, I still carry so many memories of him. It reminds me of this story, found in Medard Laz’s “Love Adds a Little Chocolate”:

As a grown man and his father recalled various Father’s Day celebrations they had shared through the years, the son said wistfully, “I still feel awful that, when I was 10 years old, I didn’t give you either a card or a gift.”

The father replied, “Son, I remember the Saturday before that Father’s Day. I saw you in a store, although you didn’t see me. I watched as you picked up several cigars and stuffed them into your pocket. I knew that you had no money, and I suspected you were about to steal those cigars as a present for me. I felt extremely sad to think you would leave the store without paying for them. But almost as soon as you tucked the cigars in your pocket, you pulled them out and put them back in the box on the shelf.

“When you stayed out playing all the next day because you had no present to give me, you probably thought I was hurt. You were wrong. When you put those cigars back and decided not to break the law, you gave me the best Father’s Day present I ever received.”

My best present to Dad is to live the type of life he modeled for me. Although I didn’t inherit his gift of calmness nor his ability to fall asleep anywhere — most famously at Arrowhead Stadium, somehow ignoring the screaming of 78,000 Chiefs fans — his dedication to the Catholic faith did rub off on me.

What better way to celebrate Father’s Day than with a prayer? I like this one, written by Kirk D. Loadman-Copeland:

“Let us praise those fathers who have striven to balance the demands of work, marriage and children with an honest awareness of both joy and sacrifice.

Let us praise those fathers who, lacking a good role model, have worked to become a good father.

Let us praise those fathers, who by their own account were not always there for their children, but who continue to offer those children, now grown, their love and support.

Let us praise those fathers whose children are adopted and whose love and support have offered healing.

Let us praise those fathers who, as stepfathers, freely choose the obligation of fatherhood and have earned their stepchildren’s love and respect.

Let us praise those fathers who have lost a child to death, and continue to hold the child in their heart.

Let us praise those men who have no children, but cherish the next generation as if they were their own.

Let us praise those men who have “fathered” us in their role as mentors and guides.

Let us praise those men who are about to become fathers: May they openly delight in their children.

And let us praise those fathers who have died, but live on in our memory and whose love continues to nurture us.”

Finally, let’s not forget to praise the most important father as we say: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name!”

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