While I was sitting having my morning coffee one day last week, my nine year-old entered the room complaining about a problem he was having as a result of a loved one’s good intention towards him. Focused more on the item (the effort of an experienced hand) as opposed to the love packed within, the situation brought me back to an incident in my own life that comprised the perfect teaching moment now. I relayed the story forthwith:

When I was newly married, I endeavored to make my first pecan pie. My parents were coming over for dinner, and I wanted to impress them. I labored over that pie for hours, shelling all the pecans myself. When it finally came out of the oven, I made sure to plate it magnificently, so proud was I of my newfound skill.

As dinner ended, I placed the pecan pie on the table for all to admire, and then to admire more. Carefully cutting, then serving, each piece, I couldn’t wait to hear how tasty it was from my husband, my mom, and my dad.

My husband was the first to remark, “Honey, you missed a few shells.” My heart sank, as my loving efforts had been thwarted by my inexperience. I was so disappointed.

Then my father chimed in without raising his eyes from his plate, “I think it is delicious.” He continued, directing his comment specifically towards my new husband, “You know, son, you can focus on the sweetness of the pie, or the few shells you find within. Your choice, but I’d recommend the former.”

My parents have been married for fifty-five years. Any wonder why they have lasted so long?

I never forgot that moment or lesson, which I recalled and chose to pass along to my young son today in an effort to provide him with valuable perspective — his grandfather’s wisdom rising to the occasion. It’s one we should all take stock in, and measure our individual and collective actions by. That’s true on a national level too, as so much of this nation focuses only on the shells.

Thinking back, I never told my father how much his words meant to me, both these words and many others. He knows now without a doubt how much they meant to me, as he reads everything I write. I’ve made plenty of pecan pies since that day, but none as sweet or as memorable.

In our society, the impact of a father can go unnoticed, but it can be profound. On this holiday, I thought this story would be the perfect one to recognize the contributions fathers make everyday to their families’ lives.

Happy Father’s Day, Gentlemen! We appreciate you, and all that you share and do, including seeing past all of the shells through eyes of unwavering love.

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