I realized recently that I was on the precipice of a Facebook milestone. I had reached 499 friends, and I jokingly posted that the 500th had better be really special.
My 500th friend ended up being my father.
Why is that special? He and I have had a fractured relationship as adults, and until two weeks ago, we hadn’t spoken in 13 years.
My dad and I didn’t see eye to eye when I was growing up in northeastern Ohio, and at 19 I ended up leaving home in the middle of the night to live in an apartment in Akron, where I was attending college. We didn’t speak for two years after that.
We resumed communication once I’d moved to Florida, but it was sporadic. He rode his motorcycle down from Ohio to visit, and he remarked more than once that I was doing well in my life. I wasn’t accustomed to receiving that sort of praise from him and greatly appreciated it.
We lost touch with each other in 2000 or so, when he’d moved to Australia and remarried and I was about to move from Florida to Iowa, followed by the West. I assumed he wasn’t interested in communicating because he’d moved on his life, to a very different station. He probably assumed I wasn’t interested because I harbored long-held grudges.
One year of silence quickly becomes five, then 10. I didn’t fully understand what a crime our lack of communication was until we started speaking to each other again.
We talk daily now. I share anecdotes from 20 years ago, and he marvels at my ability to remember them. We discuss our love of The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac and other bands. I tease him about his dislike of rap music, as most 64-year-olds aren’t exactly big fans. We share memories of my mother, who passed away 20 years ago. And in the course of our conversations, he teaches me powerful lessons about why I’m the person I am.
Most important, he tells me he loves me and is proud of me. No matter what kind of relationship you have with your own father, chances are that you crave that.
If you have a great relationship with your dad, be sure to remind him that you love and appreciate him. You might assume he knows this, but I labored for years under assumptions about my father that have proved incorrect. And if you don’t have a great relationship, consider reconnecting. I can tell you from experience that the results might surprise you.
Happy Father’s Day.
Editor Brian Sandford can be reached at email@example.com.