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Honoring fathers on Father's Day

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brian Stives
  • 8th Air Force Public Affairs
A 14- and a 12-year-old boy and a chainsaw ...

I'm not sure what picture those words paint in your mind, but in my mind, that picture ain't pretty.

My 14-year-old mind, on the other hand, wasn't thinking about the horrors of what could have happened when I decided, along with my brother, to use my grandfather's chainsaw during the construction of a Top-Secret Super G.I. Joe Fort in the desert behind my grandparent's Chaparral, N.M., home.

Construction was well underway when we ran out of wood to build the walls of our super fort. We knew there was no way on Earth we could defeat Cobra (G.I. Joe's nemesis) with a half-built super fort, and with the future of the world at stake, we felt it was our duty to use my grandpa's chainsaw to cut down a few small mesquite bushes to finish the fort. We did so, but got a little carried away and cut down more bushes than we needed. What we didn't need for the fort, we left lying on the ground right where we cut them and piled them up.

No doubt we saved the world from the Cobra's evil tyranny, but we nearly lost our backsides in the process, and I'm not talking about the danger from a fast-moving, highly-sharpened chainsaw blade.

I only remember my dad being angry once or twice while I was growing up, but this bush-cutting incident was one of those times. He was livid when he came home one afternoon and asked if we knew who had been cutting down bushes on my grandparents' property. Being a brave (and sometimes brain-cell deficient) boy, I confidently said "No," and left the room before he or anyone else could figure out I was lying.

For months afterward, I lived in fear of the doom I knew would come when my dad found out the truth. I didn't return to the Top-Secret Super G.I. Joe Fort for a long time; I decided Cobra could take over the fort and the entire world, as long as my dad never found out what I'd done.

More than 10 years later, I finally worked up the courage to tell him what really happened to those bushes on grandpa's property. I think I was 25 when I made sure I had a thick book stuffed firmly in the seat of my britches and told him I was the moron who'd cut down the bushes and lied to him so many years before. I was relieved when he simply chuckled about it, only vaguely remembering the details.

But that's the way my dad is about many of the negative things I've done in my life. He doesn't remember most of my failures, but he's got a pretty good memory when it comes to my achievements, both as a child and an adult.

I'm a father now, and I believe that's how many dads are. I've always wished my dad a happy Father's Day, but now that I'm following in his footsteps, I'm learning to truly appreciate what a wonderful dad he's always been.

I hope everyone who reads this story has similar tales they remember about their fathers. But the two most important things to remember as we honor dads this Father's Day are: first, don't let your children play with a chainsaw, and second, on Sunday, make sure you tell your dad he's special.