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Since today is Father’s Day, I find myself remembering the past. And just how fast time flies.
My first Father’s Day was in 1996. My daughter and I were both wearing Virginia Tech shirts, which was kind of our thing for most of our lives since she seemed to live a charmed life with regards to the Hokies. Two days before she came home with us, Virginia Tech had played Miami in football, were 0-2 at the time, and life didn’t look too good for Frank Beamer, Jim Druckenmiller and company. But somehow the Hokies won, and my daughter never experienced a loss that first year.
Later on New Year’s Eve, she was wearing a tiny Virginia Tech sweatshirt and slept on my chest as I watched the Hokies stun Texas in the Sugar Bowl. Several times I whispered to her that one day she too would graduate from Virginia Tech. She replied by snoring.
I also called my Dad that day to wish him a happy Father’s Day and his response was “welcome to the club!” and wished me a happy Father’s Day in return for the first time. Which was very cool.
Fast forward 10 years. It’s June 18, 2006 and my neighbor has a problem. He has two tickets for the Nats-Yankees game at RFK. The person he was going to go with bailed on him. Upon hearing this, my wife said “go and have a good time.” So my neighbor and I went, the stadium was packed, and it was a nice sunny day.
The only problem was the three fans seated in front of us. They were highly obnoxious Yankee fans, they never stopped talking the entire game, and they weren’t a lot of fun to be around. They talked trash every waking moment of the game until there was one out in the bottom of the ninth and the Yankees were ahead 2-1.
At that moment, Ryan Zimmerman became the face of the franchise to me forever. He parked a line drive just over the left field fence for a 2-run walkoff home run that won the game, and finally shut up the three New Yorkers. Justice was served.
I again called my Dad to wish him a Happy Father’s Day and tell him about the game. Two months later both my Dad and my father in law were gone. In my small branch of the family tree, I went from being one of several fathers to last Dad standing. I eulogized both in the span of only a few weeks.
Fast forward another 10 years. It’s 2016 and just as I predicted, my daughter graduated from Virginia Tech. I never went through graduation ceremonies when I graduated (I just told them to mail me the diploma) so watching my daughter walk across the stage that day sort of completed the circle.
In the previous months we sat together in Lane Stadium to see Frank Beamer’s last game as a head coach in Blacksburg. When she acknowledged she never actually went to a basketball game during her time at Virginia Tech, it just turned out the ACC Tournament was at the Verizon Center here in DC.
It was my fatherly duty to make sure that item got crossed off the list, so I got tickets and waited until the wee hours of the morning while watching the Hokies beat Florida State in the second round. To me, it was a trifecta in that she got to see a game, she got to attend an ACC Tournament AND she actually saw the Hokies win.
That Father’s Day was also bittersweet, however, because when your child graduates from college, she will soon be leaving the nest. Which she soon did.
But today she’s here and will probably be stealing some of my Hokie apparel to wear around the house. Never mattered how many shirts I bought her, she always preferred to steal mine. And I will smile watching her wear a shirt three times too big that belongs to me. Or rather, "belonged" to me.
So young Dads, I wish you just as many happy memories on Father’s Day as I’ve had. I only offer one word of advice: Those 10-year periods - when I now look back at them - seem like only a few weeks ago. So keep that in mind today.
Time flies. Life goes fast. Cherish every one of them.