Today’s post is a Father’s Day week guest post from Matt Mikalatos. Matt is not only the author of Imaginary Jesus, he’s also a father and a son.
This year for Father’s Day I wanted to share with you a few memories I have of you, and the lessons I learned as a result.
One. Family legend says that once upon a time when I was a child and Mom was out of the house, I marked my hand with a green marker and you said nonchalantly, “You must be turning into the Incredible Hulk.” This probably wouldn’t have fazed most five year olds, but I had spent many Saturdays watching Monster Matinees with you, and I started to wail uncontrollably. You worked hard to convince me that a little green marker wasn’t something to worry about, but it was Mom that solved the crying when she got home and scrubbed the offending green off. You’ve reminded me many times over the years that a little green mark does not equal turning into a monster.
Two. I have many memories of you, sleeves rolled up and elbow deep in dish water. I remember you walking through the house with towering piles of laundry. I remember you vacuuming, and crawling into the wet darkness under the house to install a sump pump. When I first heard someone refer to something as “woman’s work” I knew that was a ridiculous concept, because you taught me that a father serves his family however he can.
Three. You drove me 426 miles to drop me off at college. You helped me move my stuff into the dorm room. You took me out to a meal. And then, when I awkwardly suggested you might want to stay in my dorm room while I went to the all-dorm showing of “The Crow” on a sheet between our dorms, you propped yourself up with a book and stayed out of sight. You never mentioned that you were leaving in the morning, that you had driven all this way to spend time with me, or that you had introduced me to movies like the Crow in the first place. You taught me that a father keeps loving his son even when he’s not as grateful as he should be.
Four. When I got in trouble, you would come to my room and give me these long, rambling speeches. You repeat yourself in slightly different wording four or five times until I was completely infuriated. But I realized a few years ago that you do the same thing when you are handing out praise. You keep searching for the perfect way to say, “I’m proud of you, son,” or “I love you” to the point that you don’t need to say it anymore and I want to say, I know, Dad, I know that you’re proud and you love me. But you keep on saying it, even though I already get what you’re trying to say.
Five. Multiple times a week I take my little ten month old daughter to your house, and you chase her around on the floor, growling and tickling her, and she laughs hysterically and loves it. You taught me that once you’re a dad, you’re always a dad… either a good one or a bad one. You’ve told me before that you think I’m a great dad, with a sort of mystified expression on your face, like you’re wondering, Where did you learn how to do that? I’m surprised you don’t know. I learned it from you, Dad. Thank you for teaching me to be a good husband and father. Happy Father’s Day. I’m proud of you, and I love you.
Matt Mikalatos received his BA in writing from the University of California Riverside. Like many future world leaders, he began his career as a clerk at a comic book store. Having discovered that such work caused women to shun him, Matt took control of a high school classroom and taught American literature and drama (although he was best known for his riotous “study halls”). Then Matt, in an unexpected move, joined Campus Crusade for Christ. In a moment of weakness, his best friend, Krista, agreed to marry him. He and Krista were briefly expatriated by Crusade to East Asia, where they ministered for three years. Now back in the States, Matt provides leadership to the international ministries of Crusade’s northwest region. Matt has published articles in Discipleship Journal, The Wittenburg Door, Relief, and Coach’s Midnight Diner. Matt and his wife live near Portland, Oregon. They have three beautiful daughters.
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