Friday, June 15, 2007

He Got Out and Walked

I finished work after ten tonight, walked through my front door a half hour later and found my entire family asleep. I had missed everything important. I missed homework, I missed dinner with my family, I missed kissing my wife good night and I missed tucking my three kids in. I could have slept somewhere else and they would never know, not until morning.

I should have been home.

My beautiful, bright seven year-old Gabriel is struggling with school. My younger kids spend most nights watching television while I work and my wife slogs through swamps of consonants and vowels with Gabriel. I yell too much, the house is a mess and my younger son Julian recently asked me why I work so much. I didn't have an answer that would make sense to a four year-old.

Truth be told, I didn't have an answer that would make sense to a forty year-old either. I don't know how to explain the truth: I don't know what I'm doing. I'm winging this fatherhood thing. I don't have a plan.

But when I'm in danger of turning completely into a self-pitying, living embodiment of a Harry Chapin song, I think about James Kim.

Even before Father's Day got this close, I thought often about the tragic father who spent nine days stranded with his family in the Oregon wilderness before setting out on an ill-fated quest to find help. I wonder about his brave family and I pray that they're healing. But I almost never think about the mistakes that were made or the opportunities sorrowfully missed. I think about the overwhelmed father who, when caught in real, deadly circumstances, made the decision to get out of the car and walk for help. And when I think about him doing that, I love him as much as a man can love a man he never met.

On Father's Day, my family will give me a present. They will talk about what a great father I am and I'll accept it all with the grateful smile of someone who has kept his secret for one more year. I'll think about you other fathers on Sunday, too. But for me, Father's Day is James Kim Day.

James Kim taught me what being a father really means. It means that when you're overwhelmed, terrified and on the verge of despair, you don't give up. No matter what the consequences are, you get out and walk.


Anonymous said...

Regarding Work: It has perhaps never been said by a person looking back on his or her life -- " I wish I had spent more time working ".

If you have a family, the reason to work is to provide them with the opportunity to have a financial existence that you did not.

Publisher, The Whited News said...

Great post. I can relate. You don't know me at all, and I don't know where you are spiritually, so you can take this for what it is worth. But about a year ago, I came to the realization that I cannot do it myself - my way was failing. I asked God to come into my life and take control and He has. He gives me everything I need to cope with the demands of balancing life between work/family. Now I am convinced that I cannot handle it without His guidance and love. Seek Him and He will give you strength and wisdom.

Ron said...

Great post Richard.

Share Cropper said...

Richard, that willingness to keep going and do what is necessary is what keeps some of going. It's what got some of us through childhood. I'm grateful that you realize what you are missing with your family, and I hope you can increase your time with them. But, the important thing is that you know if the time should come that you would "get out and walk." Peace,