It’s the 90’s (sorry…no one should have to relive them, but it’s important for the story so just go with it.) It’s 11am on a Sunday. You’re 11 years old and all you want to be doing is playing video games with your friends. However…you find yourself participating in something that is completely different. Something you don’t want to be doing with every fiber of your being. You don’t want to be doing this so much that there is a part of you – albeit a very small part that your young mind isn’t quite proud of and feels instant shame for even considering– that would rather be doing homework or cleaning your room instead of being here.
Did I mention that it’s going to take up a whole hour of your Sunday? It is. And your going to be bored. Oh. So. Bored.
So where is this place that your prepubescent body is raging against so hard?
You consciously try to not roll your eyes as everyone around you attempts to do this thing called “singing” with all the enthusiasm of a sloth on downers. BUT, you are excited though because the Priest is about to share his Homily. This is a good development in the Mass timeline for two reasons: you actually enjoy this part as the Priest always says something interesting and, more importantly, it signifies that the mass is halfway over and you are that much closer to being free from this momentous, hour-long sacrifice that is destroying your not-quite-old-enough-to-drive-brain.
You sit through the homily and, as usual, it’s a good one. However, something different happened this time. There was a line the Priest said that gave your Dad the biggest smile causing him to gently nudge you. His smile was so big in fact that it gave the impression to those around him that – if it was appropriate – he would have shouted out, “Amen,” at the top of his lungs.
Your pre-teen sense of popularity and what that would have done to the lack-there-of that you possessed was grateful he didn’t.
What was the phrase that got your Dad so excited on a Sunday morning?
The Priest looked over the congregation as he discussed the importance of life experience and sharing that experience with others and said, “Remember, young ones, your elders – your parents – have the wisdom.” After Mass, your Dad would immediately repeat to you, “Remember what Father said: ‘I have the wisdom!’”
That day, your Dad would restate that phrase multiple times to you. The same could be said of the next week. And the next month.
And now, 28 years later? He’s still doing it.
This is a part of the story of my life. And the Dad in question? Spoiler Alert: He’s mine. To this day, he still reminds me of this Homily and those words of wisdom. You’d think that would be a little irksome after so long, wouldn’t you?
The thing is…it isn’t. It isn’t because it’s 100% true. And this isn’t because my Dad is perfect – he likes anchovies after all – but the greatest gift he’s given me (aside from helping to create me of course) is the wisdom he’s been able to share with me over the years. Thoughts on life, love, honor, respect, humor, and the importance of a well-timed fart joke.
I wouldn’t be me without this wisdom. Wisdom I hope to share someday with my own children, God willing.
In fact on Father's day this week, at breakfast on the beach he imparted another piece of wisdom when speaking about business and leadership:
“If you ask the right questions, you can lead anyone.” – Joseph Leone, June 17, 2018.
Thank you for this gift, Dad. You are one of the most honorable and truly good people I know – and definitely the best man I know. I love you. Happy Father’s Day.