The return of the overemotional ninny (Father's Day edition)

Dancing with Dad at a wedding, circa 1995. (Lord help us all.)
My current bout of overemotional ninnyness started in the Hallmark aisle at the CVS last month. I was browsing through the "serious" Father's Day cards (i.e. the ones not about beer, golf, or laziness) in search of a card for my dad. The messages inside were all about Dad being there for you, Dad setting a great example, Dad making sacrifices, Dad loving you as a child and now as an adult.

The lump in my throat began there.

Then came CBS Sunday Morning's Father's Day episode. Contributor Bill Geist did a segment about his daughter Libby's wedding, and how he felt being father of the bride. When he saw her walk into the room her wedding gown, he got choked up. So did I.

The lump grew and pushed out some tears.

Then came the blessing at church for all fathers, be they with us, away from us, or gone for now. Then all the Facebook profile photos of dads and their baby girls. Then this three-Kleenex post from my friend Sarah.

By that point I was a goner -- a blubbering idiot on the couch, at church, and over my phone. I'm sure people around me thought I was nuts. I considered drinking wine at 10 a.m. just to calm down.

When I dug into it, however, the ninnyness took shape. A couple dear friends are watching their fathers battle serious illness right now. Other loved ones are marking the first year (or several) without theirs. Some are struggling to connect with their dads; some are watching them age. Both my grandfathers -- my parents' dads, two steps out from me -- are now gone.

In short, time is passing, and my ninnyness pointed out what I didn't realize I'd taken for granted of late: that not only is my dad here, but he's also in good shape and sound mind and full of love and encouragement for me. We Skyped while he opened his Father's Day gift. We help each other on LinkedIn. We follow each other on Facebook. And when we get together, we have a time-honored repetoire of eight jokes that we never tire of repeating.

When my dad posts articles like this one about children growing up and dedicates it to me and my brother, I know he's feeling the passage of time too. I don't mean this in a morbid sense; I simply mean that we are now both adults, and we appreciate that we are moving through life's incredible cycles together.

The Hallmark cards that started this relapse were right on a basic level: My dad is indeed here for me. He sets a great example. He made (and makes) a lot of sacrifices. He loved me growing up, and he loves me now. But the cards will never capture the full import of that blessing.

That's what overemotional ninnyness is for: to drive home just how good you have it.

Prayer #214: Our Fathers

For the fathers we're born to
The fathers we choose
The fathers we question
The fathers we lose
The fathers we laugh with
The fathers we fight
The fathers who scared off
The monsters at night

For the fathers who love us
However they can,
May we see You in them --
May we see a good man.