As we all celebrate Father’s Day we think of our Father’s and our children. At the 74th annual Father of the Year event at the New York Hilton, given by the Father’s Day/Mother’s Day Council, Emceed this year by Mark K. Shriver, a Kennedy look alike he made reference to one of the awardees, former President George W. Bush and how nauseating it is to play on a family name.
Daughter, Barbara Bush gave the presentatoin speech for her dad, and welled in tears “a family trait” as she recounted all her parents and grandparents had done for her and her sister. When the former President accepted his award, he credited becoming a father with helping him stop drinking and then spoke with humor and eloquence about the importance of the role of a father, “I think the most important priority for a dad is to be a dad. In my case, I might have been slightly self-absorbed at times, but when I became a dad, I only had one real job and that was to provide for these little girls. “ He said he didn’t think he would have quit drinking if he hadn’t become a father. But most of his time at the microphone was to speak from his book 41 A Portrait of My Father about his father.
Also receiving recognition from the National Father’s Day Committee was Morris Goldfarb, the head of the G-III Apparel Group, who spoke about his children and grandchildren and how he changed his ways over the past five years after realizing how much he missed traveling and building his business and being away from his family and how now when he shares his vacation home in Saint Barts with his children he is the first one up to prepare breakfast for his grandchildren, and of course, how much money he has given to them.
David Gonzales of Jacksonville, Florida, was recognized as the Ashok Sani “All-Star” dad, who met his child when she was three after falling in love with her mother. Both father and daughter agreed that the bond of genes did not matter to them, agreeing they love each other and feel for each other as if they were genetically bonded.
As a father and grandfather, this award makes me think about what my kids and grandchildren think of the role I played and will continue to play in their lives, as I remain an integral member of the family. I can only hope, though I’ll never win a national award like President Bush did today, that in their minds and hearts that they always knew and will know that I love them unconditionally and that I am there for them in any way I can be. That’s my view of my being a Dad.
And to my Dad, allow me to take this time to wish you a happy Father’s Day too.
Father’s Day is June 15 but at the NY Hilton Father’s Day celebrations started yesterday. The Father’s Day/Mother’s Day Council held it’s annual event awarding FATHERS OF THE YEAR to 5 awardees. Fashion Icon Vince Camuto, Governor Chris Christie, medical device executive Robert Reid, Bloomingdales Chairman Tony Strong and Football Hall of Famer Curtis Martin shared the award and one other thing. Each of these men of wealth and power stated in rather similar words “The most important thing that I get to do every day is to be a father.”
In the world in which we live where women in the workplace fight for equality, men are learning to balance responsibilities of work and being a dad. Several of the recipients had children there to speak about the role models their fathers are to them. Robert Reid was nominated for his award based upon his being a swim coach for his daughter’s swim team in the Special Olympics. While four of Camuto’s five children attended, Governor Christie told the audience that only one of his four children could make the ceremony and, in front of the audience of more than 1,000 he told her she was “My new favorite child.” Then smiling, he suggested to her, “You have no idea what this is going to do for you.” Curtis Martin, the final awardee to speak, explained that neither of his children were there, nor his wife, because she is home, breast feeding their new baby and his 2½ year old son was a bit too young to understand what this means. All the other recipients, as well as the Hostess of the event, CBS news personality Nora O’Donnell, who was awarded one of the Mother of the Year honors just last month, expressed humility in winning the award and told of the reaction of their children based in surprise. Basically asking “You? You’re the best?”
Governor Christie has taken heat for his relation with his children for being in Disney World during a snowstorm that buried New Jersey and for taking a state police helicopter to watch his son’s baseball game. The Governor garnered praise when this past Easter he invited another son’s Princeton baseball team to the governor’s mansion, because their team schedule did not allow the teammates to go home for the holidays. He proudly announced that the daughter that attended was going to start Notre Dame in September.
Another common thread of all winners were their recalling their childhoods and the fathers they had. Vince Camuto’s father died at a young age, which caused his family lose their home and build a life from that point. He found his first job as a ladies shoe salesman on Fifth Avenue and he learned that all ladies wanted was for a man to listen to what they need, and that early experience became the cornerstone for his business. He felt that while his father gave him lessons, which he used in life, it was his mother who reared the family. Curtis Martin learned from his father what not to be. The lesson he learned from his father was to forgive for the abuses of his childhood. He recalled that one of his greatest moments in life was getting his mother to forgive his father for his lifetime of improper actions. But other fathers were true role models, which guided these fathers.
As a father, this reporter was reminded by this ceremony, the commonality of mankind. Every fathers first day of becoming who they are, was the day their first child was born.