Written by Mike Bowers, Sales Development Specialist
My father was raised on a potato farm in Croswell, Michigan. He was a model student who won cross-country championships, and went on to the Marine Corps at the age of 18 where he continued to excel and receive accolades. He was always busy and worked 60-hour weeks as an automation electrician at a metal stamping plant, working side jobs and at one point also taking night classes to obtain more certifications for his job. The majority of our family photos include my father in the background still dressed in his dark navy work uniform. I can still smell the bearing grease and hydraulic fluid his boots emitted if I close my eyes and concentrate hard enough.
I spent a good portion of my childhood playing in sports tournaments and school events and I was often disappointed as I looked into the audience to see if my dad was there to watch. I frequently participated in dinner table discussions about how I need to apply myself more and always give my best attempt at everything I do. If there was room for improvement, the Sergeant oozed out of my father and squeezed out every ounce of effort I had. Like most young adults, I always thought I had it worse off than most kids. I used to say to myself, “What could he possibly know about being a teenager in the 90s?” and “When I have kids …!”
Fast forward to today. I am an adult with two children and wrapped up in “life”. I came to the realization that my dad’s seven-day work weeks paid for my karate lessons and moved us out of a declining neighborhood and into a blue-ribbon school district. The long hours he devoted to his job (he still works at the same plant seven days a week!) has shown me how to endure sacrifice. I hear all of the parental guidance and speeches of tough-love echo through my head as I find myself sputtering the exact same advice to my children – verbatim! There we have it … I have become my FATHER — it must be hardwired into my DNA. I have been told that I walk like him and I have the same mannerisms. Ironically, I have transformed into the parent I insisted I would never resemble.
It was Father’s Day 2012, I went to visit my dad and found him in the garage tinkering with his generator. Out of nowhere he said words that I never expected to hear from him. Tears welled up in his eyes and he said, “Michael, I have worked my entire life away and I missed all of you kids growing up.” We stood in silence for a few seconds and I assured him he has done an incredible job. As I have admitted many times before, he molded me into the man I am today and I could not thank him enough! Is it possible to be a great father and still feel like you failed? I could only be so lucky to have the positive impact on my children as he did on me.
The words, “Cherish Every Moment” are now tattooed on my shoulder to remind me that we only go around this life once. As an adult, it is very easy to get lost in work and other responsibilities, unfortunately taking away precious time of watching your children growing up. Live without regrets and be thankful for all you are given. Once you are done reading this, call your dad or your child and take the time to tell them how much you appreciate them! I could not be happier to be just like my hero, my role model, my FATHER.
I wish all the fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day!