Years ago, when phone lines were landlocked, I worked as an Information Operator for Southern California Bell. There was no world wide web and there were no iPhones; back then, was only about 35 years ago (1975-78). Customers called Information from home, a pay phone or phone booth. After dialing 4-1-1 they would hear me say, “What city please.” After receiving the information including the person’s name or business, I used the eraser part of my pencil to flip through pages of the specific area code book to find the number. All this happened in less than 20 seconds, if an Operator was good at her job, which I was. As a good Information Operator, supervisors often timed us during random half-hour periods of the day. In order to have good time trials, I had a few shortcuts up my sleeve. For example, I had the numbers for Disneyland and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa memorized. They were our biggest request in the (714) area code. However, supervisors usually did not time us on Sundays, except for one—Mother’s Day—the busiest calling holiday of the year. Even for international calling, Mother’s Day ranks at the top of the list, except for South Koreans who topped the Father’s Day calling list by making 4 times as many calls on Father’s Day as they do on Mother’s Day.
Back in the day, landline phone calls had charges, which could be reversed or made as collect-calls. This meant the recipient of the phone calls paid the charges. While Mother’s Day was the busiest holiday for traditional calls, Father’s Day was the busiest for collect calling! Today, it is almost laughable to think of collect calling because so many have cell phones with plans that allow calling family and friends free of charge. Today, calling Information costs more than calling your Dad, which brings me to the point of this post. Call your Dad!
My father passed away years ago, but I remember calling him on Father’s Day and he was always glad to hear my voice. Back then, our relationship was strained and I remember it was uncomfortable for me to call him or even buy a card. But because he was my Father—the person who gave me life, and in my case, made it possible for me to live in freedom rather than communism, and because I believed the Bible when it talked about honoring your parents, I would wrestle with my emotions at the Hallmark store and buy a card. I rejected cards with too personal or fluffy phrases and opted for the more generic. When it came to gift buying for Dad, I chose the impersonal lottery tickets or gift certificates from a department store. Now that my dad is gone, I wish I had the opportunity to call him—even if painful or uncomfortable, because now, as a parent of three adult children, I understand how wonderful it feels to hear the voice of your child over the phone, or see the face of your child enter your home. These simple things are life-giving experiences for a parent—and more so at the empty nest stage.
Because of the tension in our relationship, my children grew up with only a few touches from their grandfather. Today, my husband is a grandfather and I absolutely love watching him interact with our grandchild. I love that Josiah recognizes his Grandpa, even over Skype, and they are building a loving and lasting relationship.
Yesterday, I went to the Hallmark store to buy a card for my husband. The title of the card I chose is Good-Wise-Strong. In a few words the card defines a good, wise, strong and successful man. After I purchased the card, I looked at it more closely and realized it was not a card for a Husband, but for a Dad. Perhaps that was a Freudian slip on my part. However, the card defines what my Husband is, but also what my Dad was. He was not a perfect man, as no man is, but he was there, loving his children, doing his best to support our growing family and involved with us personally.
Every time I called my dad, he always ended the conversation with, “I love you, okay?” as if he knew I was uncertain of that fact. Today, I am more certain than ever my father loved me, my siblings and our family–perhaps because I am more aware of my own challenges as a parent.
When my Dad passed away, my siblings and I were at the hospital. We spoke to him, although he was heavily sedated. We read the Bible, sang and prayed for him. It was not until his brother, my uncle Otto, came from Colorado that we knew for certain our Dad could hear the sound of our voice. He died shortly thereafter.
There you have it children. Call your Dad on Father’s Day! Send him a card or show your face via SKYPE if you live far away. You don’t have to be part of the accumulated $12.7 billion projected spending for this year– except for the card I guess, but you can be part of making a lasting chain of memories with your dad – celebrating him while he still breathes on this earth.
If your dad is gone, then say a prayer for him; it will bring healing to your heart and who knows, perhaps he will still hear the sound of your voice and be glad.
On a ridiculous note, if you are thinking of ordering pizza for Dad, no worries. According to dailyfinance.com and pizzamarket.com, Father’s Day is not one of the busiest pizza ordering days of the year.
So go for it; and whatever you decide to do with your Dad, Grandpa, Husband and the other Fathers in your life, make it a point to celebrate with gratitude and joy.