What can you give to the father who has everything? It’s the same thing the father can give to the children who have everything. It’s the one gift that everyone should have. TIME! It’s a gift in limited commodity; a short shelf-life; fits everyone; and need never be returned.
|Our son, Peter, with three-month-old
Lilly Bell at the High Museum
of Art, Atlanta, 2011
Our son, Peter, has just completed his MBA with an emphasis on economics. A rigorous and demanding endeavor while working full time, he graduated with a high GPA. This was a great accomplishment; but it cost him in lost family time. But I’m proud of him for still reserving as much time as possible for wife, Ann-Bailey, and toddler, daughter, Lilly Bell. Leaving early and returning after Lilly Bell was sleeping on class days meant finding creative ways to preserve quality time. Sometimes it was dressing Lilly Bell while her mom was dressing for work; or preparing her breakfast and eating with her. Week-ends meant finding as much time as possible to be together as well as study.
|My Daddy, David Collier Shattles, wearing
his Eastern Air Lines uniform and
holding my sister, Laura, I am
holding my baby doll.
My father was a golfer. No, not professionally; but that was his passion; his hobby. His work, which he enjoyed, was with Eastern Air Lines. You would think that between work and golfing, he would have little time for his family. But his family was very important to him. When my sister and I were in elementary school, he found time to be with us by taking us to the golf course with him. Neither of us turned into golfers, but we enjoyed being with him, walking the course, watching him play.
|Allan with our daughter, Katie, at
Hilton Head August 2004
When I was on the Marietta School Board with a night meeting twice a month, Allan would take Peter and Katie out to McDonald’s for dinner. Although Allan is a great cook, they enjoyed this special daddy-child night out together. When I announced that I wasn't going to run again for the Board, both children asked if that meant giving up their special McDonald’s night. By then, they were both in high school and eating at McDonald’s wasn't that special, but the time with their dad certainly was.
Not only is it often difficult for busy fathers to find that special time for their children, it is often difficult for children to find time for their fathers. The modern family has created such hectic schedules that from a young age children are often too busy for fun family time. When roles are reversed and the child is an adult, with their own family, it is even harder for them to find quality time with their father. A phone call or a visit is a special gift, much better than anything store bought.
The best gifts of time are given in love; non-judgmental; non-threatening; time just being together. It doesn't have to involve anything complicated; not necessarily a lot of conversation; not even large amounts all at once. Just enough time to say “I love you; I care about your life; I value you as a person.”My own dad left this world much too soon. Our time together passed much too quickly and I wish there could have been time for one more walk around the golf course or one more conversation with him. The best gift I have given my children is the same one my mother gave to me: a loving father who treasures time with his children even when they are all grown up.