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ISSUE: Port’s Legacy event
OUR VIEW: Relating to a father-son relationship
In a transparent way, Dr. Doug Wheeler shared with an audience at Historic State Theater last weekend his relationship with his father, the late Port Wheeler. Both humorous and tearful at points, but thought-proving throughout, it was a powerful presentation.
Many attendees at the “Port’s Legacy” event knew both Wheelers.
The elder Wheeler was a decorated World War II veteran; a prominent local businessman; founder and president of Crucible Magnetics, now Crumax; and a well-respected individual in the community.
Some grew up alongside Dr. Wheeler and were his friends and schoolmates here in Hardin County. Others went on to be Western Kentucky University classmates with the younger Wheeler. And some were aware of Family Path, the successful family and marital counseling ministry Dr. Wheeler founded and has operated in Woodinville, Wash., after earning a PhD from Grace Theological Seminary and Oxford Graduate School.
Few, however, were fully aware of the fractured relationship the two experienced through Wheeler’s teenage years or the healing process they went through during the final days of Port Wheeler’s life.
The life story Wheeler disclosed through his presentation painted a father-son relationship with which many easily relate.
As a child, a son idolizes his father, emulating everything he sees dad doing. But then adolescent and teenage years set in and relationships become strained as sons seek independence and rebel from the guidance, boundaries and discipline.
At the same time, fathers often allow time to be absorbed with work and providing for the family, leaving little remaining availability, energy or interest for a son eager for attention. Then there are fathers who emotionally starve their sons of the encouragement, affection and affirmation, and positive role model they need.
Even within the healthiest of family dynamics, relationships can be problematic. When the family structure is more dysfunctional than dynamic, issues escalate from bubbling tensions into outright turmoil.
Dr. Wheeler described for his audience the rediscovery he and his father experienced during Mr. Wheeler’s final days at Hardin Memorial Hospital in 2005. For the Wheelers, this reconciliation was significant and provided a deeper mutual appreciation for one another, as men and as father and son.
Through the presentation, Dr. Wheeler expressed his thankfulness for the understanding and communication he and his dad experienced during those twilight days of his father’s life.
Others likely have had similar experiences in coming-to-terms in estranged or emotionally distant relationships. Unfortunately, many never have this opportunity. Time is not made to communicate feelings long held inside, or to ask for or offer forgiveness for mistakes and hurts that linger, or to agree that although two may never see eye-to-eye they still can connect heart-to-heart.
Make time, and take time, today for such communication. Time is too short and relationships too important to put it off for another day.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise's editorial board.