The best man I know

What do you give the person who has given you everything you have?
I’ve been racking my brains to answer this, but so far I’ve come up with zilch, nadda, nothing.
Usually, I have plenty of gift ideas, but when it comes to him I’m clueless. I mean, what do you give someone who means so much to you?
Tried the matching cook wear. Did the soccer clad pajamas. Gave the “Buy One, Get Second Sub Free” thing from Mr. Sub.
How much more creative can a son get?
I really love my dad and I want this Father’s Day to be special. I mean, what can you give someone who worked two jobs—and even three—for years to put food on his kids’ plates and clothes on their backs, and yet always found time to ask my brother and I how school had gone that day?
What present is good enough for a man who was there by my side when all I was getting from the doctors was bad news?
What can you get for someone who felt my pain while I lay in a hospital bed with tubes coming out of my arms, but always kept a grip on things and be strong enough for the whole family?
What do you give to the person who makes you feel like a better person by just being around him? What’s appropriate for someone who gives you motivation to do things you never thought you could accomplish?
What can you give to the person who always found time to play catch when the bills were rising, or play a little soccer at the park even when he had to go to work in five minutes?
My dad has been there since Day 1 to Day 8,196 for my brother and Day 8,561 for me.
He came over from Greece along with his younger brother when they were teenagers. Coming from Metaphorphosi, which is in southern Greece and where some of the best olives of the world are found, is where my dad’s education in life began.
He was the oldest of three brothers in a family that saw things like race horses—straight and narrow. They were religious, respectful towards others, and very disciplined.
These traits, along with many others, are things he brought over the Atlantic Ocean and are things he has tried (and still tries) to instill in his two sons.
He met my mom at the L&W Restaurant in Hinton, Alta., where she worked as a waitress, and fell in love at first sight. They would marry shortly after, but too not much applause because there were only a few people at their wedding (everyone else was in Greece).
They have been together for close to 25 years, and I would consider myself a very lucky man if I can obtain half the happiness with my wife as they have had with each other.
I tower over my dad, who is 5’6” on a good day, but pale in comparison to the size of his heart. I can’t even begin to count the times when he went out of his way to help others—and always has been there with a helping hand and open ear.
Like this one time when he had just finished a long shift at Teddy’s restaurant in Edmonton, where he was the head chef for many years. I had begun working there along with my brother as busboys and we were about to head home.
The night had been busy and my dad didn’t have time to make himself anything to eat at work, so he made a little something for himself so he could eat at home.
We headed out the back exit to the car and there was a person, who didn’t have the same privileges as most of us do, sitting across the street on the curb beside St. George’s Orthodox Church, which is where he and my mom got married and where my brother and I were baptized.
The person on the curb had not asked for anything, but there was my dad with his always quick-feet crossing the street and placing the bag of food beside the stranger.
The man looked up and smiled gently, and my dad walked back to the car.
I asked my dad if he had known the man and he said he did not. “So why did you give him your food? You haven’t eaten anything today,” I curiously asked.
“Because I know that I’ll eat tomorrow and the next day and the day after that,” my dad replied. Then a pause. “But with him, that sandwich and fries could be the best meal he’ll have this month.”
My dad has never asked for thank-yous.
Everything he does, he does it without fanfare. He does things other people aren’t willing to do because he knows it’s the right thing to do.
I’ve always tried to thank my dad by trying to make him proud.
Unfortunately, you only start to appreciate your parents when you get older. I’ve been on my own know for close to a year and I’ve missed my dad every day of that year.
When I was a kid, my heroes were Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, and Wayne Gretzky. But while I cheered for them, I didn’t realize the person I should have been idolizing the most was right there in my always comfortable home—that person was my dad.
So I ask again, what kind of gift do you give to the person who you wish you could be like?
What sort of item can make up for all the thank-yous I’ve forgotten to say? For instance, let’s start with the biggest. I don’t think I’ve ever thanked my dad for being just that—my dad.
I don’t know where I would be without him, but I’m guessing it probably would be on some street corner selling bits of poetry for a quarter each, which is a place my brother jokes I will end up.
But I know I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this.
So what can you give the person who has given you everything and never asked for anything in return? It just hit me.
This.

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