Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day

Our girls, one Christmas!
You know it seems that fathers are often forgotten in the shuffle of everyday living. We all make a big deal of Mother's Day (and you better, I've talked to her!), but Father's day in this nation is celebrated in June:  school is out, Dad acts like it's no big deal but, in his heart, it means so much to be remembered.

Putting it in perspective, if it weren't for that random dude named Dad, none of us would be here! Now don't laugh and stop reading -- think about it for a moment. After all, if that guy had not cared enough about your future existence to marry your mother and then stick around for all those years, you wouldn't be who you are today. He stuck through it:  from pregnancy to toddler to full-fledged brat (the teen-age years still sting), to watch you grow into an adult -- and that is one incredible commitment! The time, money, effort and heartache is unimaginable -- unless you are a Dad yourself.

So Dads get a special day set aside to be celebrated for all of this. You send a card, or give a little gift that says, "Yes, I know I was a pain sometimes, but thanks for being there! Thanks for everything you do and for just being you!"

In today's society with divorce, parental abandonment, or those fathers who never commit to being "Dad," it seems more appropriate than ever to give Dad his due. There are fewer such noble warriors than we might wish to contemplate.

We will write this piece from multiple perspectives, and try not to give you headache -- but I think on one level or another, you will all find something to which you can relate.

L, of the J and L team, remembers her own father as her hero. He taught her about the ways of the world and instilled that good old Puritan work ethic which has helped her become who she is. He was there when his grand-children came, to help teach them about riding a bike and other skills that Dad just seem to do better than Mom. As time went on, distance and the choices made in life took their toll, but there are memories which are still fond and fresh.

Our daughters, and I can say this before I turn the keyboard over to J, of J and L, had the best father I've ever known. A good man -- not always a nice guy (who can be when you must play the role of "Dad") but a very good man who to this day, loves and protects his little ladies fiercely. He knows when to encourage, when to chastise, when to play, and when to listen. And, he had a comment about anyone or anything they would ask. You may not always like the answer, but you got an honest, well-informed opinion when you sought one. Even as adults, the girls call home, sometimes filtered through Mom, to seek his wisdom. They don't always take the advice, but they still ask. Ah, such is the life of a Dad!

J, of team J and L, remembers his father with bittersweet joy. He lost his father nearly thirty years ago. The man who fought valiantly through three wars, lost his last war with cancer, but not before sharing his wisdom and love with his two sons.

Writing comes so easily for a wordsmith but when I discuss my father, George, my throat constricts and my eyes fill with tears of love. My father passed away from cancer when I was in my twenties. The years when the youth believe they know everything and know nothing about life. Those years when we generally are so self-absorbed that we forget or never realize life is just a blink in time. I was one of those twenty-somethings and to this day I regret it.

My father was a wonderful man - quiet and never spoke much about himself but when he did you were meant to listen. My brother and I often disagreed with dad but realized he had been right and we had been wrong.

I recall a special moment in my senior year in high school while playing football and it was father's night - the night when the dads would come out to the field with their sons and place their hand on our shoulder pads in recognition of our accomplishments but now eons into the future it was we, the players, who should have realized we had dads to place those very hands upon our shoulders. I was one very fortunate child.

When cancer took my father from our lives a great hole opened in my life. Though I did not yet have children, I wondered who I could look to for guidance. My mother was great but she was a mother and not a dad. I needed the strong hand and will only, sometimes, a father can muster when a question arose. Not all a dad's answers are welcomed but they come from the heart and the years upon this earth. We do the best we can with the knowledge we have and hope they are the right calls.

I miss my father more than I can state since he never met any of my four gorgeous and talented daughters but my hope is he is looking down from heaven and saying; "You did a fine job, son."

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