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A hope note

I used to get frustrated with my father when I thanked him for being a good father and he would deflect the compliment. I can see him now, shaking his head, grimacing and saying something like, ‘I just wish I had taken you fishing more.’
As the father of grown sons, I’m now in position to understand. Lots of parents like me give ourselves low grades for our parenting efforts. We’re acutely aware of how green we were then (especially with the first child). We groan out loud when our worst judgment call, worst put-down or worst rant bubbles up from the memory bank. We could easily draw up a list of our top-10 sins of omission and commission.
We wish we could delete, from our children’s memories even more than ours, those moments. I wonder sometimes how they’ve found the grace within them to forgive me for some things I said and did, especially in their teenage years.
What helps most is knowing I did do a few things right. Maybe the best thing I did was to take our three sons, one at a time, on a trip to the southwest when they were teenagers.
Our first son and I rode horses from Cody, Wyo., into the Shoshone National Forest and camped out there for a week. Our second son and I photographed Taos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Canyon De Chelly. Our third son and I explored Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon and Arches National Park. They and I will never forget our magical week together.
On Father’s Day, all three sons and their ladies went to church with us and dined with us afterwards at our house. I took it as a sweet indicator that I must have done something right.