I would gladly pay for my subscription to the New York Times just for the privilege of reading Ben Stein’s column on Sunday morning. It is quite simply my favorite read of the week.
Today, a week before Father’s Day, Mr. Stein writes about how little we as children appreciate the sacrifices out fathers make for use as we grow up, so that we may live pleasant lives.
He mentions that he recently found a memoir of his father’s that gave him some insight into just what his father had to deal with as he provided for his children. He says that he thinks of that as he slogs through another airport, or another day. He admonishes us to that our parents for what they did for us:
Be smarter than Ben Stein ever was. Be a better person than I ever was. Right now, today, thank your parents for working to support you. Don’t act as if it’s the divine right of students. Get right up in their faces and say, ‘Thank you for what you do so I can live like this.’ Say something. Say it, so that when they’re at O’Hare or Dallas-Fort Worth and they’ve just learned that their flight is canceled and they’ll have to stay overnight at the airport, they will know you appreciate them.
My father was a teacher – he didn’t travel much. My mother was a homemaker and was always home for my younger brother and I. I can’t attest to what passed through their heads as they went through their days as I was growing up. But I had a wonderful, almost idyllic childhood as I look back on it now. And I know that in their way they paid dearly for me to have that, though I probably never showed them nearly enough how much I appreciated it, mostly because you never appreciate anything when it is good. You have to see bad so that you know how good it was.
I’m a father now too. My sons are 20 and 22, and when they were growing up I did travel – a lot. But my wife was always home for them, just as my mom was for me. And when I worked and travelled, I didn’t see it as a bother. I just understood that it’s what you do for your kids. I guess my parents just taught me that by example. And if my wife and I have done a good jobthen our kids will do the same for theirs.
I called my Mom on Mother’s Day, and I’ll call my Dad on Father’s day next week. But those phone calls will never quite convey what I’d really like to say. Ben Stein got to say it in the New York Times, and though I would never clajm to be as smart as Mr. Stein, I guess that I can say it here.
Thanks Mom and Dad. For all you’ve done for me. For everything.