Gift Cards from Dad

“We always have to forgive each other and not get hung up on the past.”
~ Zeke Braverman

“Parenthood” is my favorite show. Rarely is television this real-to-life. No zombies. No blood-splattered walls. No doctors ducking into the supply closet for a quickie with a pretty nurse. This show features believable characters living, loving and struggling with the very things that make up our lives.

In the series finale, I noticed something: I noticed an opportunity – an invitation for all of us, especially for dads. Zeke Braverman, masterfully played by Craig T. Nelson, is the patriarch of the family. He is the wise leader; the old softy with a tough exterior. Zeke’s health is fading and he makes sure nothing is left unsaid. In a way, he gives his family “gift cards” for later use.

Who doesn’t love a good gift card? I have one in my wallet right now and I can’t wait to use it. Retailers and restaurants love them too, not just because they bring in business, but because each year more than a billion dollars in gift cards go unclaimed – unredeemed. There’s even a term for it. It’s called “breakage.”

Zeke makes a point to sit down one-on-one with the members of his family who need him the most; the grandson who needs forgiveness; the granddaughter in need of strength; the daughter who needs him to walk her down the aisle; the future son-in-law who needs his blessing, and the one I related to the most; the youngest son who needs to hear from his father that he’s good enough. Zeke said what needed to be said.

You can do the same.

At this very moment there are chasms among families – trenches that separate. Sometimes people dig so deeply into their positions they can no longer see a way out. And every day the heart gradually atrophies and blessings, like so many gift cards go unused – unredeemed.

I see why it’s called “breakage.”

The reason “Parenthood” is so good is that we’re all Bravermans. We’re fearless and we’re afraid. We’re compassionate and we’re indifferent. We’re perfectly imperfect. We’re beautiful. And our father says we should forgive and not get hung up on the past.

Let’s redeem that card.