On that terrible night of storms last Wednesday I found myself on the far western edge of town ensuring that one of our ballfields had been cleared of players, coaches, parents, etc. The sirens were just about to go off and the dark swirling skies and lightning seemed to be falling from the skies during those moments. As I was about to get back into my truck to drive across town to check another field another car came flying into the parking lot and pulled up next to me. Inside was a man my age, late 30s/early 40s, and appeared to be every bit a large well-put together strong sorta guy. But once his eyes met mine I saw something else. I saw the eyes of a father. And they were scared and not-quite-as-well-put-together at that moment. “Have you seen two boys? They were playing football.” he said hurredly. I told him I arrived five minutes before he had and found the park and the ballfields completely void of anyone. This brought a sharp look of pain and even panic to his face. “Are you sure? My two boys were playing a football game in the park with some of their friends and we can’t find them, but some of the other boys are already home. I need to find my boys.”
By now the lightning was really getting thick and the sirens started to go off. The thought of running back into a heavily wooded park during the lightning storm and rain wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do, but looking at his face and those EYES of his made it easy to run back up the hill and take another look around. This time I looked on the ground to see if anyone had been struck but again saw no one. I ran back down to tell him this and suggested he try calling around to their friends. He thanked me, agreed, and was dialing his cell phone as he sped away. I ran back to my truck to get out of the storm and drove quickly across town. But the eyes of that father…that dad…are still before my mind’s eye when I close my own eyes.
A Father’s Eyes convey so many things in the lives of their children. I know for a fact that the very SECOND I became a father twelve years ago my eyesight improved from 20/20 to 20/10. I reflected on this yesterday when I was at a local convenience store to grab a paper and noticed an SUV at the pumps with no adults in sight, but two 4-6 year old children in the back. Windowns down. Unattended by an adult. The parents were inside with their backs to the pumps getting sodas for themselves and the kids. But when I became a parent my ability to do anything similar to a child of my own became impossible. Perhaps I’m paranoid, or just properly cautious in a world seemingly gone crazy at times, but I cannot bring myself to let my children ever get too far out of my sight. Now that Nolan’s twelve I do make for more allowances and have lengthened the leash, so to speak. But not for the other two. And I could never leave them unattended in a car in such a public place. I never have.
Sharp as a hawk and on the lookout for danger. Wise and seemingly all-knowing. Kind. Gentle. Firm. Loving. Or wide-eyed and nervous as hell when looking for their children during times of peril. A Father’s Eyes are all of these things and more. I hope that today on Father’s Day many father’s eyes were smiling due to a visit or a call from his children. The kind of eyes that crinkle on the corners when smiling, with even a misty tear or two within them as they hear from the child, now an adult, that they care so much about.