In this excerpt from the book, “That’s My Dad”, Joe Battaglia shares a touching story of a father fixing his relationship with his son, teaching us how to right a wrong with someone and giving hope to estranged children and parents.
When my son Joey was around eight, I would take him in the backyard and teach him how to play baseball. The deal was that if he hit the ball over my head, I would buy him a big LEGO pirate ship, which he really wanted. Unfortunately, he never hit the ball over my head. Or did he?
My son thought he did. But I disagreed. Regardless, it obviously bothered him because he thought that I reneged on the deal. When Joey was twenty-four years old, he took a job in the Orlando area. So in November 2013 we drove from New Jersey to Jacksonville, Florida, in record time. During our time in the car we had several conversations, mostly good. But there were a few that told me there still existed some tension between us.
Once we arrived we needed to get him settled in his new apartment, so our first stop was at the local Walmart. As we shopped for cleaning supplies and various odds and ends, I came across the LEGO aisle. As I stood in front of the new version of the LEGO pirate ship, I realized that ship was creating a wedge between us. And so I decided that it was time I did something about it. When I flew home the very next day, my first stop was Walmart, where I purchased that pirate ship, wrapped it up, and waited for Christmas.
When Joey came home for Christmas, I could not wait to give him this special gift. After all the gifts were given out, I told Joey I had one more for him, but before he opened it he needed to first read the card I had written for him. It said simply:
This is long overdue, and for that I am sorry. Please accept this, late as it may be, for the continual home runs you are hitting in your life.
The look on his face told the story. After reading the note, he said he knew exactly what the gift was. That day we spent Christmas at my brother-in-law Timmy’s house. When Timmy asked Joey what he got for Christmas, Joey put his arm around me and said to Timmy, “My dad never has to buy me another gift.” That meant the world to me.
No matter how bad you screw up, no matter how many years have passed, you can always do something about your past mistakes. Even if the person you go back to fails to forgive you, you will be released. I am so thankful that I tried to right a wrong, and I believe that Joey and I are better for it. It’s never too late to right a wrong that was done in the past.
THINK ABOUT THIS
Dads don’t always get it right. Joe Pellegrino realized that there was still one thing he needed to do to heal something between him and his son. And one of the greatest leaders of all time, King David, really blew it with his son as well.
The common theme throughout these relationships and throughout Scripture is redemption. It’s never too late to right a wrong with someone, or right yourself with God through what Jesus has done for us through His death and resurrection.
The ultimate separation was God turning His face from His Son when Jesus became sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21)—that was a separation far greater and more painful than what any earthly father may have forgotten to do or say to his son.
Earthly fathers will falter, but our heavenly Father cannot falter or fail. Fathers, if you are today, God can help restore that relationship. He did it through His Son Jesus. Yes, the price was great, but the reward is even greater.