In fact, they can sometimes be so small it may not feel — if you’re the one making them — that much is changing. But then one day you stop, look back and realize just how far you’ve come.
Cliches have been coined over time to express this idea. Rome, after all, wasn’t built in a day even if the Great Wall in China or the pyramids in Egypt may be better examples of the slow, but steady, progress determined men and women can make when given enough time.
By myself, or even as part of a group, I’m unlikely to ever do something as great as building a pyramid. But Father’s Day offered a good opportunity for taking a few moments to look back and measure progress.
For many reasons, my becoming a father — at least in the biological sense — is unlikely. Not as unlikely as my building a Great Wall, but still out of reach. For a long time, this made me unhappy and angry — especially at Father’s Day — in ways that are still difficult to communicate.
While nothing has changed this Father’s Day, everything has changed.
In the biological sense, I’m not a father. I don’t expect that will ever change. But I’ve been given a great gift — an opportunity to do dad-like things when one teenager needs help changing a flat tire or another one needs a ride home from soccer practice or when their mom needs someone to dig a hole to plant a rose bush or just someone with whom she can talk.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, I never expected any of those things to happen. And then comes Father’s Day 2015.
The day started with me and Janet getting up and going out for breakfast.
For work, I had to go speak Sunday morning at a church in the community, where there was a sermon by the pastor and a separate children’s message. Among other things, they addressed the importance of “substitute” fathers. And they handed out chocolate bars to all of the men at the service.
After church, Janet, Jacob and I went on a bike ride. And then the three of us spent part of the afternoon working in the yard.
We ended the day by renting and watching Still Alice.
It was a pretty good day for an old guy who never got the chance to be a dad and may never be fully viewed as one. But that doesn’t really matter because the old guy knows he’s already closer to Rome than he once even imagined was possible.