This Father#039;s Day, celebrate Dad

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

A father walks behind his child, gently grasping the seat of the bicycle. The training wheels have been removed. The son or daughter pedals and wobbles and the father reaches out, as if to hold them back, but then withdraws his hand and watches them go. And while they will fall and scuff their knees and run to mother, they are pulled back the next day to that same vacant sidewalk by their father; their hero, their idol, their god.

He is authority. They fear, but love him, because he is bigger than life.

The son reaches and takes his hand and they walk and they run. He teaches them the joy of throwing a curve ball and the timing of the well-placed jump shot. The daughter brings her father to tea parties and he squats beside her little table, not the least bit embarrassed, and pretends the saltine crackers are English crumpets and the refrigerated tea is drawn from sterling silver pots.

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They grow older.

The children walk to the school bus or to the classroom and they cling to their father's leg, afraid of the unknown. But he quietly ushers them inside, and when removed from the situation, he worries and frets and may even shed a tear, thinking of his children's anxious little faces.

They grow older.

The boy is rebelling and wants fast cars and faster music. The daughter likes boys and sleepovers and telephones. They stay out too late and are gone too long and they worry him for money. He talks to them like they are adults and occasionally they fight.

They grow older.

They're off to college. Or to the military. Or to marriage. Or to work. He sits in the backyard and watches the rain and sun beat away the net from the basketball goal. The tea set and table is packed in a box, sitting forlorn in the attic. They come back, perhaps bringing grandchildren, who sit on his lap and make him laugh. He gives them candy and dollar bills. The daughter and son look at him, as if realizing for the first time:

He has grown older.

Happy Father's Day.

Kevin Pearcey is Group Managing Editor of Greenville Newspapers, LLC. He can be reached by phone at 383-9302, ext. 136 or by email at: