It's funny I used to sing this Credence Clearwater Revival song in a most rebellious and mocking way, not having grown up with my Dad around to teach me those things a Dad does, like how to use tools, how to fish, toss the ball around or teach me how to be a husband and father. I became angrier as years went by and then something bad happened, I became absent like my Dad.
The two oldest boys now had someone else to take my place and in shame I tried to drink my life away. I sang those words in pity because that is what we tend to do as addicts, have a pity party and blame everyone else for our troubles. Yeah, I sang it then in despair, I ain't no fortunate son!
Not until I got sober and was reunited with my oldest, Tom did I begin to see the damage caused by me not being there for them in their formative years. Then Paul was born and I had another chance to get it right, and this time I did. We did so many things together and all the while I thought about the second chance God had given me and though filled with gratitude toward Him my anger was still there.
When my father passed away I set a chair beside me and followed the instructions most AA folks will tell you to do when someone you need to forgive is not present. I looked at that empty chair and I forgave my Dad and an amazing feeling of being forgiven came over me as the Lord spoke to my heart and said, "I am your father now, I will teach you what to do".
And I began to understand what a real Dad is supposed to be, loving, kind, encouraging, but also capable of helping a son get on the right track if he falters, and teaching him about forgiveness. When Paul ran into some difficulties as an adult after High School, he sought me out to help him understand some things and we spoke openly and honestly man to man what needed to be done.
Tom and I spent alot of time together and those same things occurred and more recently with Derek. Then along came Logan who has not seen his Dad since he was 3, and I have realized once again that God has opened a door for me to be a mentor, one who does things with him every time I come back to ATL and I realize this whole thing has come full circle, and a scripture came to mind:
God rewards those who earnestly seek him.
To the men who have struggled as I have to get to this point, don't waste anytime for a moment after you read this to go hug your son, tell him how proud you are of him, toss the ball around for awhile and cherish every moment you have to be with him and be his Dad. It is a great privilege and honor to be a father, and it has so many rewards.
As I traveled back to Alabama on Monday I carried the cross from one of Paul's flower arrangements from the celebration of his life and as I placed it on my dresser tonight before I wrote this I cried both tears of sadness and joy. Surely for his loss, but also for the gain of being his Dad the way a Dad is supposed to be.
I am not singing that song again but I am keeping those two words because I have now become, through the grace of an incredible Father, a Fortunate Son!
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.