Finding the perfect gift for Dad is difficult any year, but for Father’s Day 2009, the challenge is particularly daunting. We may be strapped for cash ourselves, and many of our father’s have lost their jobs. Others have seen their retirement nest egg crack, and are struggling with fears of what the current economy will mean for them and the survival of their family. They are attached to the security of the old days, when they worked hard, kept their job, and retired with their nest egg.
When unexpected losses occur, it can mean some scrambling to adjust, but this doesn’t mean that our dads have to continue suffering. It may be hard to grasp, but what’s causing our fathers to suffer is not so much their actual losses as it is the thoughts they are having about those losses. This includes worries about what might happen or thoughts that things should be different. Suffering ends when a person learns to let go of these thoughts and enjoy what they do have, like a loving spouse or child, their health, or the beautiful grandchild rushing to greet them.
This doesn’t mean a denial of the facts, but it does mean being present with all the blessings that they still have. In Living a Peaceful Life, I share how my father-in-law, Bill who was diagnosed with cancer a few months after retiring, struggled for four years before dying. But during this time, Bill described these years as the most wonderful time of his life, because he surrounded himself with his wife, children, grandchildren, brother, sisters, and nephews. Though there was much physical pain, Bill experienced great joy and wouldn’t have traded the last four years of his life for anything.
The classic necktie gift just doesn’t seem to cut it in 2009. This Father’s Day, perhaps the greatest gift we can give our own dad, and other fathers that we know, is to help them replace their need for security and certainty with savoring and delighting in all they have now. We can help them do this by being aware of their struggle, and letting them know that it is who they are, not what they have achieved, that matters most to us, their children. We can support, and encourage them to follow these three helpful tips:
1. Live and enjoy today.
2. Celebrate all the blessings you have now.
3. Stop giving mental airtime to fears of what might happen or yearnings for things to be different.