The Family That Kicks Together, Sticks Together

Every four years in mid June, the world unites.  Well most of the World.   The world unites to enjoy soccer, football for everyone outside of the US, on its biggest stage.  The World Cup.  I have seen qualifying matches in the states with my dad. (1997 USA v El Salvador)  And have seen World Cup matches with my sons in person.  (1994 Qtr Final Brazil v Netherlands)  I can recall the first game I saw live on closed circuit TV in 1970.  (Brasil v Italy finals)  And I recall the first movie I saw of the World Cup.  (England v West Germany 1966)  And they are all great memories.  But only the tip of the iceberg.

The World Cup also takes place during/on Father’s Day, here in the US.  And in my humble opinion, that is very fitting.  At least it is for me.  One who had three sons who have played the game, and with my soccer beginnings and playing career being influenced greatly by my father.  Nothing against the Mothers who have influenced the Beautiful Game, but I am speaking from my experiences here.  Although my Mother was one of the best cheerleaders on the sidelines for her sons and the teams they played on, it is the bind between my father and I that the game of soccer forged to make stronger.  And the same bond exists with my three sons, Blake, Drew and Tyler.

Yes, the World Cup, and the game of Soccer, unites.  The World.  And Families.

A few years ago on Fathers Day, the boys and I went to a field and kicked the ball around.  Small sided games.  “Three-post”.  Fun stuff.  Then we came back home, watched a World Cup game on TV, had a beverage or two, and Diana made us some snacks.  Perfect.  Perfect Father’s Day or any day.

We have played together.  Watched each other.  Cheered and jeered together.  Made lifetime friends and a few others who may hold a grudge for something that happened on the field.  Soccer has allowed us to celebrate wins, try to forget losses, and to this day we can laugh, cry and make fun of one another.

Last summer Drew and I kicked a ball on an amazing field in Brooklyn that jutted out into the harbor, surrounded by water on three sides and a net that was not quite high enough!  Oops!


Then in the fall Blake, Tyler and I kicked around on a pitch in Oslo, Norway…with Jenn joining in as well.

IMGP1077 141

Soccer has taken each one of us to places we never dreamed of.  Physically and emotionally…almost spiritually at times.  (and perhaps it took us to the police station…at least a few of us)

And it also is partially responsible for my 37 years of a beautiful marriage to Diana!  We initially met when she drove her brother, Craig, to a soccer camp he was attending and I was a camp instructor.

A few years ago, Tyler gave me a book entitled, “More Than A Game”, by Chuck Korr and Marvin Close.  It is an amazing true story about soccer and apartheid.  And illustrates how the game of soccer can bring people together under horrible conditions.  And change lives.

So imagine what the game can do under more ideal situations.

Bring people together.  Bring families together.  Spread love and joy and happiness.

In his final game,  the legendary player Pelé gave a brief pre-match speech during which he asked the crowd to say the word “love” with him three times.

Makes a lot of sense to me.  Especially since the game can bring a lot of love to those who allow it to do so.

I have.  My family has.  And I am glad we do.

Go USA.  I believe!

boys soccer dad and I WCup2jpg drew blake john DSCN2676


What Does It Take…?

Throughout our lives we all have been exposed to expectations.  Qualifications.  Requirements.

Going to school, we know what it takes to get to the next grade, or level.  There may be prerequisite classes that need to be taken.  When we apply for a job, we are presented with similar types of “requirements”.  Experience in Word, Excel, Sales, Management might be a requirement.  Another one could be College degree or 5 years experience in the said field.  And for some other jobs it seems that if you can walk, talk and chew gum…well you are then qualified…not even in that order.

And once you have that job, you usually can figure out what it takes to get to the next level…a promotion.

So, expectations are often set.  Qualifications realized.  It makes it easier to navigate around so you may do your best.

But what about fatherhood?

What does it take to be a Father?

Of course I mean on a much grander scale than simply fathering a child.  That is simply being a sperm donor, and the world has way too many of those already.  What are the requirements of being a father?

I can only look at this having learned from three of the finest men I have known…My dad, Al Schaefering.  Diana’s dad, Adrian Stahl.  And my grandfather, Joe Jurczyk.  These are the examples from which I have learned and witnessed.  Far from perfect, each one flawed as we fathers can be, but each one has shown me, “What it takes to be a Father”.  And I thank them for it.

Responsibility.  Accept it.  You are responsible for providing for your family.  Embrace this and wear it like a proud badge of honor.  It is not like being responsible for a puppy dog.  Be responsible and act responsible.  Impossible to do all of the time, but know it, be aware of it and take on the challenge.  Show how to be responsible.  How to act.  What this truly means

Protection.  You are there to serve and protect in many ways.  24/7.  This is not shift work, but you can not be all places at all times.  You can only be ready when needed and be there as needed.  Do your best.  Plan ahead, be prepared.  Stuff happens, but be there when it does.

Provider.  Provide the best life you are able to provide.  This does not mean the most toys, or the most expensive ones.  Nor does it have anything to do with the materialistic world we live in.  Food on the table.  Shelter.  Medical attention. Love.  Time.  Learning.  Make sure you provide these.  Children look to a father for this.

Teacher.  Coach.  This is not about a classroom.  The world is the classroom.  Nor is this about the athletic field.  It is about showing the way.  The right way.  The wrong way.  A new way.  Take the time to make sure you show what is “the right thing to do”.     Then you too,  must “Do the right thing”.  This is not a “do as I say, not as I do”,  type of situation.  Lead by example.

Faith.  We all need to have faith in our lives.  Some of us know this.  Some are still learning.  Others may take a while.  I have strong faith.  I received this from my “mentors”.  I know not all share the same faith that I have.  But we all need it…need to believe in something.  Someone.  Having God in my life makes a difference for me…and those around me.

Love.  And do not be afraid to show it.  Show it to your children.  Show it to their mother.  Make sure they hear it in your words and your actions.  Do not take this for granted. make sure the message of love is received.  Everyone expresses love differently.  Do not be obtuse about this.  This is not the time to be discreet.  Shout it out to them and to the world.

Patience…Patience…Patience.  Did I say to be patient.  Wait for it…because it will happen, just not always when we want it to happen.  I know first hand that getting frustrated and “blowing up” over something insignificant only leads to regrets.  Love is patient, and we need to be also.

Your Time.  Money can not buy this.  It is difficult to measure.  But impossible to do without.  You must be a giver of your time.  Quality time.  Time to talk, learn about each other.  Time to laugh and tell funny stories or recall those “remember when” moments you have shared.  Time to cry, grieve, reflect on your losses.  Moments to pick each other up off of the ground and tell one another,”it’ll be okay”.  Time you wish would standstill, frozen only in memories, but sometimes that is good enough.

I know that this is not an “all-inclusive” list of What it takes to be a Father.  Not a recipe or a secret list.  It is also not a complete list of what I have learned from the loving men I mentioned above, Al, Adrian and Joe. 

scan0277Copy of dad ribbonMy beautiful picture

It is only a few thoughts on this day that is set aside to recognize those Fathers in our lives and in our memories.  I hope a lot of people read this.  And I hope something I have said here resonates with something your Father has been able to do for you.

I hope you think of him.  Often.  If he is still with you, please thank him.  Thank him for me, because he has helped to make this place a better world.

One of may favorite quotes is “If you fail at raising your children, nothing else matters”.

Pay it forward. 

Being a Father is a journey worth sharing and enjoying.

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“A Song For Dad”

Earlier I mentioned a song by Keith Urban, “A Song For Dad”.  I spoke about how Tyler made me a “family video” for Father’s Day a few years ago and used this as the “soundtrack”.

Many of you have mentioned that you had never heard this song and what a wonderful song it is.

I agree.  I have had it on my iPod, iPhone and iLike for a while now.  Although at times, it can make my eyes itch and well up…must be allergies.

Anyway, in honor of all of us “Sons” and their “Pops”, I thought I would post the lyrics to the song.

And if you do not have this song, it is worth the $1.29 or whatever on iTunes.  If nothing else, listening to it may bring back some nice memories for you, or make some new ones, and that alone is worth the $1.29.

CAUTION: Watch out for those allergies!!!

“Song For Dad”

Lately I’ve been noticing
I say the same things he used to say
And I even find myself acting the very same way
I tap my fingers on the table
To the rhythm in my soul
And I jingle the car keys
When I’m ready to go
When I look in the mirror
He’s right there in my eyes
Starin’ back at me and I realize

The older I get
The more I can see
How much he loved my mother and my brother and me
And he did the best that he could
And I only hope when I have my own family
That everyday I see
A little more of my father in me

There were times I thought he was bein’
Just a little bit hard on me
But now I understand he was makin’ me
Become the man he knew that I could be
In everything he ever did
He always did with love
And I’m proud today to say I’m his son
When somebody says I hope I get to meet your dad
I just smile and say you already have

The older I get
The more I can see
How much he loved my mother and my brother and me
And he did the best that he could
And I only hope when I have my own family
That everyday I see
A little more of my father in me

He’s in my eyes
My heart, my soul
My hands, my pride
And when I feel alone

And I think I can’t go on
I hear him sayin’ “Son you’ll be alright”
Everything’s gonna be alright”
Yes it is

The older I get
The more I can see
That he loved my mother and my brother and me
And he did the best that he could
And I only hope when I have my own family
That everyday I see
Oh I hope I see
I hope everyday I see
A little more of my father in me

A little more of my father in me
I hope everyday I see in me
In me
In me
I hope everyday I see

A little more of my father in me

Published in: on June 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I Made My List, You Can Do the Same…Happy Father’s Day

It has been a while since I visited the blog-o-sphere to share something.  Unintentional…trust me.

There has been a lot going on.  Good stuff and some “not so”.  Visited Norway, and there will be much more about that wonderful trip with Blake and Yvonne later.

This is about Father’s Day.  This Sunday.  Tomorrow.

And while I want to go on record as saying that a Mother’s job may be one of the most difficult and challenging one around…I think being a Father is one of the best.  Along with being a husband, it has been the most rewarding position I have ever held.  Oh, sure, it has a few traps…got to be careful you don’t fall into them…they can be tough to  climb out of.   But for my money, ain’t nuttin’ better.

I often think about how other Pops think about this.  Do they feel as fortunate as I?  How can you not feel the blessing of having this privelege of being a father?  The opportunity to help make the world a better place?  Leave something for others when you move on…

My Dad is no longer around…since 2001.  I go to thinking about what he left us every now and then.  What he did to help me and the family and to make the world a little better…usually through example.  Here is a partial list I came up with, although I am sure it is incomplete.  I am also sure that each one of you reading this could do the same…make a list.

  • He taught us the value and rewards of hard work.  And that the rewards sometimes need to come from within.
  • Never give up…no matter.
  • Al showed me the importance to give your time to others.  To help, volunteer, coach.
  • He gave me my love for baseball, especially the Cardinals…
  • …and autograph collecting.
  • I learned how to keep score in baseball, on a real scorecard.
  • He showed me how to use a mitre saw and box, the proper way.
  • Al proved to me that “not knowing” is no excuse. He didn’t know much about soccer, but learned from others; He became an electrician by reading library books…
  • Dad introduced the “beautiful game” of soccer to me.
  • He made me use my left foot in playing soccer, and I am glad he did.
  • I learned a strong set of values from my Dad…be honest, be fair; don’t let anyone take advantage of you, and don’t cheat…yourself or anyone else.
  • I learned there is a God, and he is watching over us.
  • Al taught me the importance and meaning of family…blood really is thicker than water.
  • Dad taught me to commit to something is not a short term thing…it it a commitment.
  • A good martini is hard to find.
  • But a good scotch is a good thing to find.
  • I learned that there is no sacrifice that a Father would not make for his family.
  • Be courteous.  Be polite.  Be respectful.
  • Be there if needed.
  • I learned to enjoy music…especially the blues and jazz; Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk…
  • Al taught me how to appreciate his movies…Dirty Dozen, The Professionals, any Bogart or John Wayne movie, Bridge over the River Kwai…(even though I did not realize it at the time, I do know and I wish I could watch one of these with him now)
  • Love your wife…she will drive you crazy…you will drive her crazy…but love her.  “I do” is not a sometimes thing.
  • I learned that showing emotion is not a weakness, it is a strength.
  • He taught me how to play catcher, and why it is the best position in baseball.
  • He showed confidence in me.  He trusted me.
  • Dad taught me to find my own way…in every way…what I wore, what I ate, drank, stood tall…
  • I got my love of reading from my Dad…he was a voracious reader…I would read a book and pass it to him, he would read one and pass it to me…fun to share with your Pop.
  • We saw “Patton” together…We both cried when we saw “Brian’s Song”.
  • Dad took me to my first baseball game (Cardinals vs Dodgers) and to Stan Musial’s last game.
  • I loved to play catch with him.
  • He showed me to make the “best” out of a situation”, “what the hell”, enjoy yourself and do what you can.
  • Dad instilled the importance of “committment” in me.  Commit to yourself, your family, your team…once you do, you give it all you got until completed…and some things are never completed.
  • My father taught me how to live.  Enjoy life and those around you.  Have fun.  Smile and love.  Most things are good for you…in moderation…so don’t be afraid to try something new for a change…you don’t need to like it or stay with it.
  • And he taught me how to die.  Never complaining.  Head high.  Proud of yourself and your family.  Not asking “why me?”…but feeling that he may be able to leave the world a better place, whether through medical clinical trials or by simply leaving love for others.

A few years ago, Tyler made a video for me on Father’s Day.  He used our family photos and a song by Keith Urban, “Song For Dad”.  I think about that song often, and it takes me to Father’s Day and back to my Dad.

“The older I get
The more I can see
How much he loved my mother and my brother and me
And he did the best that he could
And I only hope when I have my own family
That everyday I see
A little more of my father in me”

Proverbs 23:24 says, “The Father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him”.

I have fathered wise sons, and I rejoice in them and have great joy.

I hope I gave my Dad as much joy as he gave me.