Friday, June 15, 2012


I just returned home from a memorial service for someone I served with at Texas Health Resources. His life was cut short by a tragic accident. Not only was he a loyal co-worker, but more importantly, he loved God and his family above all else. In addition to his beautiful bride of 20 years, he left behind three young children. During the service, I tried to imagine what great plans they might have been making for Father’s Day, just one week away.

On the drive home, I reflected upon the service, crying one last time and thinking about what I wanted out of Father’s Day this Sunday. In the past, we’ve gone out to eat and done various activities, including my favorite — a few hours of Rock Band fame. But my most favorite indulgence was the “home spa.” My son would give my major muscles a deep tissue massage while my daughter did the manicure and pedicure. Julie would give me a facial. They lavished me with luxury. I enjoy every second and typically would fall asleep. One year my daughter took advantage of my slumber and colored my toe nails. I thought it was cute until I took off my socks in the men’s locker room the next day. That was hard to explain.

So, back in the car, I wondered about my deceased friend’s children. I bet all they’d want right now is just to hang out with their dad one more time. Perhaps just sit on his lap and talk. Wrestle.

Reflecting on the truly meaningful times I had with my own Dad doesn’t bring me to any specific trip, or shopping excursion, or indulgent dining experience. I mostly remember the times we were simply together. Talking about our latest soccer exploits or reliving our favorite moments of the past. We had no agenda. We just had time, uninterrupted. I loved it.

This brings me to the best advice I received as a new Father in my twenties: be available. When you make yourself available to listen wholeheartedly to your children in their formative years (ages 0-6), you lay the foundation for them to listen to you when they’re teenagers. Take ‘em on your lap, look ‘em in the eye, and take ‘em seriously. Your two year old’s problems may be only as drastic as spilt milk, but to them it’s big time. To belittle or downplay their kid-issues plants pain deep in their hearts. Over time, that pain closes their spirits to you.

Yes, availability costs your time and energy. But that’s part of fatherhood.

So for me, this year, I simply want to be with my wife and kids and not really do much in terms of having an agenda. I long to linger and genuinely enjoy their presence. Who knows when which Father’s Day will be my last?

Ed Marx is Chief Information Officer at Texas Health Resources and a Dad to two.

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