For some reason, I decided to coach middle school basketball this year. Actually, this is not quite true. I know the reasons well. First, my middle son, Lucas, wanted to play and, shockingly, wanted me to coach. Who can turn that down? Second, I felt that of all the kids in our school, I have not spent enough time with our middle school boys. Therefore, I dusted off the whistle and returned to coaching after a near 20-year retirement.

It has been awesome. We have a scrappy team filled with players whom have no fear. We have a good time at practice. (Perhaps, I should say that I have a good time at practice. After all, they are the ones running for an hour).

Nevertheless, something strange happened a few days ago. Spotting something that needed correcting, I opened my mouth to teach, and out of my mouth came the voice of my father as I quoted one of his familiar phrases. Instantly, I was transported to my parents back yard where day after day we played ball after he got home from work. I remembered the lessons, the laughs, and mom’s call for supper.

For most of my life, this was just normal. I thought this was how all kids grow up. That is what I thought until the day I talked with a friend whose parents were splitting up. Somehow we ended up talking about my daily routine. His response shocked me. With misty eyes, he said, “I would have given anything if my dad had spent time like that with me.”

Suddenly, I was filled with sadness and gratitude. The ache in my friend’s voice broke mine. Yet, at the same time, thankfulness swelled in my heart as I realized just how blessed I have been.

Thoughts of thanksgiving fill my mind regularly at our practices.

Thank you, Daddy. I know you were tired and your knees ached after a day of hard work. Nevertheless, you took the time to shoot ball and be a presence in my life. Thank you, Daddy. I never once felt like a burden or a mistake. I never once felt unloved.

In a moment, you are reminded just how blessed you have been. For that I say, “Thank you, Daddy.”

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