The following is a guest post from Team 5.11 member Scott Sonnon.
My father sacrificed more than he had intended. Beyond his service in the Korean War, he eventually succumbed to stress-related disease.
He once told me that he regretted most losing the time with his children, a rare disclosure from his otherwise larger-than-life stoicism. He said, “One day, you’ll understand.”
One day, I did.
Traveling from one base to another, I looked through the FaceTime chat with my Son, trying to hold back the emotions of having to miss his soccer game. Kids’ games seem like small things, but really, they’re the most important, yet quickly fleeting moments.
“It’s fine, Dad. I understand,” he said in a face as stoic as his Grandfather’s once had been. I choked on his words and said goodbye as I climbed on the next plane.
Arriving home, my Son and I drove together quietly toward where we shoot bow. He’s an incredible shot. It feels great just to watch him focus.
Tightly grouping 3 arrows, he looked at me with such hope in his eyes. Something else was going on.
Drawing string back to his cheek, he began his exhale and let loose his final arrow. It flew slightly upper left, and he instantly hung his head, painfully gritting his teeth.
Putting a hand on his shoulder, I tell him to not stress. “Not many adults could group 3 like that, Son. That’s really impressive.”
He looks up at me, tears withheld but like a blanket against his eyes.
Looking downrange, he says, “Dad, I made a wish that if I made all four bullseyes, you would be able to stay for my next soccer game… I lost my focus, Dad. I’m sorry.” He hung his head again, this time the tears dropped to the grass.
“Nothing you do causes me to leave. It’s just work. I promise you that it had NOTHING to do with what you haven’t or have done. Nothing could make me prouder of the young man you’re becoming; and I’m so sorry I missed your game.”
He hugged me and asked me if we could just keep shooting and not talk about it anymore. We all process in our own way, so he notched his next arrow.
“Just enjoy the pull. Exhale and relax. I’m here, Bud.” His shoulder relaxed under my hand. He exhaled, and let it fly.
That was my Father’s Day. It wasn’t the one celebrated on a calendar, but it was the one burned into my heart.