I’ve always thought it appropriate that my dad was born on April Fools Day. I still remember on the fourth of July five or six years back, when the smoke from the fireworks hung eerily just under the treeline and the sun had long since set. My brothers and I decided that we wanted to brave the trail that runs along the back two acres of our property for no other reason than that it was scary and we were boys, so we set off into the mist like adventurers on an ill-fated quest for glory. All the time I kept glancing at the woods, sure that there were wolves of some kind or another waiting for me to slow down just a little so that they could silently pick me off. By the time we looped back around and headed for the house a few minutes later, I was a nervous wreck. We approached the tree that marked the end of the hazy, weedy nightmare of a trail and I tried to let out a sigh of relief, but it turned into a choking scream in my mouth when a dark, hulking figured leapt out from behind the tree, waving its arms and snarling. My body went completely stiff, which scared me even more because I was sure that if I didn’t start moving soon I would be killed within sight of my own living room window by the rabid beast that had taken up residence in our tree.
Fortunately, the rabid beast turned out to be my dad. Unfortunately, by this time I was shaking like an electric football table and sobbing uncontrollably. That’s when the prankster side of my dad shut down and the fatherly side shone through. He felt terrible that his joke had backfired (although my much less timid siblings thought it was hilarious), and he held me up until I was calm enough to walk back into the house. I think he apologized about fifty eight times, but he only had to ask once for me to forgive him. After all, he’s my dad, and the number of times that he’s stood up for me, made me laugh, supported me in my weird ideas, put up with my sometimes less-than-examplary efforts at growing up, and shown me the way to be a real man of God far outweigh one misguided prank. And honestly, in hindsight, it was a great joke.
So this is for you, Dad, the April Fools prankster with a heart of gold. No matter how many years you’re my dad, I’ll always be praying that God will give me one more, because being your son is one of my favorite things in the world – and that’s not a joke.