Monday, June 28, 2010

My Father's Day Surprise

I was confused…really confused. These were my wife’s instructions:

1) Be ready by 10:15 am.

2) I am leaving at 9:30 am.

3) I will call you to let you know what to do next.
4) I will tell you what to wear.
5) Do your hair, but bring a hat.

6) It would be preferable if you wore sandals, but I know how

much you “love” them. If you must wear sneakers, bring sandals.
7) Be prepared to have fun for your Father’s Day Celebration!

They were pretty vague instructions. I’m no stranger to my wife’s elaborate plans as she often organizes fun adventures for our special occasions. She calls them family team building days. What can I say…she’s very creative. We’ve had a lot of team building activities since we’ve been together.

I’ll be honest. Normally, her excitement for these days is transparent and I can decipher our adventure well in advance. It’s like when we play hide and seek (yes, we still do that). I can usually hear her giggling from across the room. The anticipation gives her away every time.

I usually play along and act surprised when the appropriate time comes. I think she appreciates that. Later she’ll ask if I knew and I’ll gently let her know that I may have figured it out. This time, she perfected her poker face. I remained confused until the last second. However, she was kind enough to drop some subtle hints:

She asked me to find my Yankee jersey…

Are we seriously going to the Yankees-Mets game? That would be amazing!

Just to make sure, I later asked her who the Yankees were playing…she had no clue.

She told me to bring a bathing suit and a towel.

We must be going to the beach or maybe a water park. That would be really fun!

Then, I started to second guess myself. These must be decoys.

As the day finally arrived, I remained baffled. At 9:30 am, she left in the car without me. I was convinced it was still part of her game. Thirty minutes later, she arrived back at the house. She wasn’t alone. There was another woman with her.

I was told to put our son in my car and follow her. After some unexpected traffic, we arrived at our destination. It was a familiar childhood place – Keansburg Amusement Park. Keansburg was a place my grandfather took me as a child. My fondest memories are of the bumper cars, which haven’t changed in over 25 years. I vividly remember the time when I was unexpectedly rear-ended and decided to jump out of the moving vehicle to run to safety with tears rolling down my cheeks. It wasn’t my proudest moment.

As my wife got out of her car, she quickly walked ahead holding a big sign. She turned around to show me. Before I could fully comprehend the situation, a crazy thought went through my head…

Holy sh*t, she’s pregnant…and this is how she’s telling me. Why is this other woman here?

As I approached the sign with my son at my side, I could read finally read it: “Happy Father’s Day” had been written on a poster board in her feminine hand-writing – a heart dotting the exclamation point.

(Still baffled at this point).

OK…she’s not pregnant. But, why are we at Keansburg?

As I turned around, the other woman had pulled out a professional looking camera and was snapping pictures.

“Surprise”, my wife said. She had hired a very talented, up and coming photographer, Nathalie Zaro, to document my Father’s day with my family. She nailed it. It was the perfect gift on the perfect occasion. I can’t think of a better way to spend my day.

As we walked through the amusement park, past those very same bumper cars, I fondly reflected on my own childhood memories. It seemed a lot bigger then, but it still holds a piece of my innocence. On my Father’s Day, my wife gave me the opportunity to share that with my own son.

He rode the rides, as I once did, with a smile plastered from ear to ear. I couldn’t be prouder or happier. I remember those days when nothing mattered. Life was full of excitement because each new day brought a new adventure and a new challenge. As we get older, the trick is to embrace those days when they come because they can be hard to recapture.


I became a father well before my son was born, although, perhaps I was not considered a father in the traditional sense that is recognized by hallmark. In 2002, I adopted my first dog – my first child, really. Since then, I’ve added, acquired, and even lost. My Father’s Day would be incomplete without valuable time with our dogs.

My love of our dogs is pure. There are no mixed emotions. There aren’t even temper tantrums. They eat whatever food they are given. They wag their tails with a simple glance in their direction. They are happy to see you whether you were gone for 2 minutes or 2 weeks. There is one emotion with dogs – love.

Our two dogs are an intricate part of my son’s life too. In addition to companionship, they provide valuable lessons on how to respect all living things. He loves them unconditionally. In return, they have accepted him into the pack, with the added perks of slobbery kisses. If they could talk, they would say that he’s one of us. He’s known no life without them.

Thus, after prying my son from the rides at Keansburg, we visited our local beach with the dogs – a place where they have spent many hot summer days swimming in the bay. With the sun still shining brightly, I stood in amazement as my family enjoyed the simplest of life’s treasures – being together. My son threw sticks for his brother and sister as they swam in and out of the water. He laughed as they shook the water off their backs. They gave him wet kisses. He ran down the sand and into the water with them, swimming away from the sharks he saw on Diego. We truly were a family.

The simple things in life become the greatest memories. These are the things I want my son to appreciate. And as I look back through the thousands of pictures taken of my family on Father’s Day, I will remember our happiness.

Thank you, Trish. You got this one perfect.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the lovely post! You have such a special relationship with your wife it is inspirational!


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