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Bill Marcil Jr., Published June 19 2011

Marcil: Father’s Day – every day – celebrate moments with him

It’s 4:30 a.m. I wake up in a panic, my sheets wet with sweat. I sit up in bed, catch my breath, and it hits me like a load of bricks. Is it true? It wasn’t a dream? My dad has died? My heart races even faster, tears stream down my face. How did this happen? I search my memory; the only thing I remember comes rushing into my head like a bullet. The regrets, the lost time, the stolen moments.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I remember the day I made a pact with myself to tell my dad all that I was feeling. It seemed all that macho b.s. got in the way. Did I really let the time slip away and now it is too late?

My mind slips into a trance of memories as they play in my mind.

I was about 10. I was hunting with my dad at his favorite hunting grounds, Fredonia, N.D. Three dads, three boys. Like most dads in the ’70s, my dad worked like crazy. But in the fall he would always take me hunting with him. My moment with my dad. We would wake up at 4 in the morning and head out to a duck slough. The mornings were cold and rainy. We would put out the decoys. It was not easy work, and I don’t ever remember enjoying it. By midmorning, the rain would drift off and the sun would come out. I would always curl up in the cattails and take a little nap. Nothing better than being with Dad. I would doze off thinking about all the cool stuff I would get to do when I was a dad.

I fast-forward to another hunting trip when I shot my first Canada goose. My dad went nuts. I shot it with a 410. He told everyone how proud he was that I shot a honker with a 410. He still has it mounted in his basement.

I forgot to tell him about the time he brought me home a toy wooden sailboat. For no reason. A simple act of thinking about me when I least expected it. I never told him how much it meant to me.

I never got a chance to tell him how I saw his kindness and sensitivity. His father, Max, had just had triple bypass heart surgery. I was with Dad as he was talking to his father, and Max broke down and cried. I remember how my dad just hugged his dad and told him everything was going to be all right. A memory etched in my mind for all eternity.

How about all the camping trips he took me on? Did I tell him how grateful I am to him? Does he know how it changed my life? Does he know I now realize how much work it was?

Did I tell him all the extra hours he worked and time he spent away from the family that I never held it against him? Today I only feel gratitude for how he worked so hard for his family. He provided. Not only for me but the 2,000-some employees he worked with. That’s lots of house payments, college educations and car payments.

When fathers raise independent thinkers, it can come back and haunt them in life. I see that now. He raised me to question the status quo, don’t take “no” for an answer. Sometimes that makes for not the easiest father/son relations. My dad and I have had our share. I regret those moments of selfishness and ego that I caused my dad pain. Today with three daughters of my own, I understand that better than ever. We dads are just doing the best we can. We are not supermen.

As all these feelings come rushing back and fill my head with emotions from years gone by, I realize that no, it is not too late … I have just woken from a dream. A nightmare. No, my father has not passed away. He is alive and well, sitting on the porch at his lake cottage reading this. My time is today.

I say to all of you: Don’t let moments pass you by. Tell your dad all the moments you are grateful for. Today is your day. Today is Father’s Day. I celebrate my father; I hope your father knows how much you celebrate him. And if your father has passed, as you put your head on your pillow tonight, right before you fall asleep, say a prayer for your father and tell him everything you never had a chance to say.

Marcil is publisher of The Forum.