I was going to write about something totally different this morning, but as I was standing in Silk’s stall pulling some bits of shavings out of her mane, I heard a voice in my head say, “It’s Father’s Day, you know.” I’ve been fixated on planning a party this afternoon for my husband, but a memory of my own dad floated up as if Silk were reminding me of him.
A couple of years ago, over a decade after my father had passed away, I received an email from a high school friend of mine. He lived down the street from us, and our parents had been friends too. He reconnected with me to tell me that he would always remember how my dad had done something for him that had been a pivotal moment in his life, and that he wanted me to know how much he admired and appreciated my father.
When we were seniors in high school, this guy had gone to a graduation party with his girlfriend. All his friends dared him to chug as much beer as he could, and he was embarrassed to not be cool in front of this girl that he liked so much. He got drunk, and as he drove her home, the cops pulled him over and arrested him. This kid was a really good student who never had been in trouble. His parents were furious. His dad refused to bail him out so he spent the night in jail. He was so ashamed and his folks were so angry that he was afraid to even talk to them.
I remembered that Saturday a million years ago, when in the middle of the night, my dad, who was a lawyer, got a phone call from the boy’s freaked out parents. I had known about the party and decided not to go because I thought there was a good chance the police would bust everyone. I was very scornful about it, as my dad got up early Sunday morning and went to the police station to bail out the kid. He drove the boy back home, talked to the parents and eventually, went to court with them and convinced the judge to give the young man some community service as punishment.
“Your dad was the only one who listened to me, “ the man wrote in his email, forty years later. “He gave me the courage to tell my folks that I was sorry, and he believed in me when no one else, not even my own parents, would stand by me.” I had forgotten the whole incident until I received his note. Then, I recalled the conversation at the dinner table that I had with my father after he came back from court. I was annoyed that the judge had not thrown the book at the kid. I thought he was stupid to have been so worried about impressing his girlfriend that he almost lost the opportunity to go to college. I was full of all the righteous indignation of the young and ambitious.
My dad let me go on and on while he ate his dinner. “Why did you have to go and save his ass?” I demanded. He looked at me and said, “Some day, honey, you’ll realize that everyone deserves a second chance.”
Happy Father’s Day!