Happy Father’s Day 2023

Father's Day with my dad Gene Slovacek and my brother Gary (right)
Me (left) with my dad, Gene Slovacek, and my brother, Gary (right)

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, and to every man who makes a difference in someone’s life, and teaches people to have no fear.

Below is an excerpt from my very first post on The Randy Report back in 2011. I had no idea what I was going to write about. As I wrote, it became clear I had something to say about my father who had passed away a little over a year before I wrote this.

I thought this might be appropriate to re-post on Father’s Day.

My father loved to travel and loved adventure. Before he died at the age of 91, he had traveled everywhere in the world several times over. Sometimes by himself, meeting new friends along the way. Talk about no fear.

My mother had passed away when I was five, so my father was THE grown up figure in my life. He was very confident, and throughout childhood I always knew he loved me.  But growing up, I wanted his approval. I wanted him to be proud of me. To not only love me, but see me attempt something and hear him say “good job.”

When I was very young my father took my brother and I to Mexico for a vacation. For me, as a 7 year old, Mexico was a very different world. Other than a swimming pool at a hotel, I was scared of a lot.

At one point we were on a beach and my father signed my 9 year old brother Gary up to go para-sailing. They strapped Gary into the harness, and up and away he went. It didn’t seem like adventure to me so much as just plain frightening.

When the time came for the ride to end, my brother was so small and light in weight and the wind was so strong, it was difficult to get him down to the ground. It took ten minutes for the “technicians” to get him down. My father turned to me and said “you’re next” and I went running away, crying. Scared to death. That was Mexico to me for a long, long time.

Father's Day in 2006

Fast forward to two years ago. I was on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with friends of mine and we all decided to go zip lining through the jungle. I couldn’t wait. Loved it. Taking a zip line hundreds of feet above the jungle floor was beyond exhilarating.

The guides asked my name at the start of the day and I gave myself a nickname “Bruno” just to be funny and make my friends laugh. All day long the guides cheered “Bruno” on. It was a great day. No fear in sight and it didn’t even occur to me fear should even be in the equation.

The next morning, while still in Mexico, I got the call my 91-year-old father had passed away in his sleep of natural causes. I flew from PV to Texas to handle the funeral and burial details.

In getting ready to speak at my father’s funeral – a daunting and important “one shot moment” at expressing something that needed to be profound – I searched to find the best and most “right” thing to say about this world & life traveler who never showed fear.

And suddenly it came to me: the memory of that 7-year-old boy who was so afraid of everything in life, and now – having just been in Mexico for the first time since that frightening experience, and without thinking twice – I was the one zooming through the canopy of the jungle thrilled at the adventure of it all.

I suddenly sensed a coming full circle and the passing of a torch. I think one of our parent’s greatest responsibilities is to prepare us, consciously and subconsciously, to face life. To not be afraid.

Standing next to my father’s casket, in a moment of clarity I turned and said to my father and his memory, “Good job.”

That story probably says something about me and my life.

I hope people find this blog, and read and react.

Feel free. No fear.

I hope all dads out there have a great Father’s Day. Click over to Newsweek where they’ve assembled all sorts of touching (or funny) ways to say Happy Father’s Day. Here’s one – from me to my dad:

I truly love the fact that I am your most favorite child and it is so obvious that you don’t have to tell it to the world….
Happy Father’s Day!