*Disclaimer: This piece is not so much a blog post, but rather a personal, unedited rambling of my appreciation for the men in my life who, in my opinion, do it right.
Over the years, there have been a variety of fathers I’ve had the privilege to observe. So, as Father’s Day approaches, I’d like to take the time to appreciate some of the men in my life who have been wonderful examples of what a father should be.
- The Superman Father, my cousin, Lou: While his amazing wife was suffering a potentially life threatening illness, Lou embodied the very definition of strength. In addition to resting his weary eyes next to his wife’s hospital bed every day, he continued to work full-time from home. After putting his three children to bed each night, he logged onto his wife’s Facebook account to give her friends an update on her condition to alleviate THEIR worries. During this time, he made sure his children had their lunches packed and were on the school bus. He maintained an air of calm, which I’m sure greatly benefited his kids by showing them how their super hero dad chose to respond to a stressful situation. Sure, he had an insane amount of support, but crawling into his bed at night…alone, praying for his wife’s survival and his children’s peace, is all the proof I need to know that he was the strength that held the family together. If there were a Father of the Year award, I have no doubt it would go to him.
- The Quiet Southern Father, my father-in-law: After going through his own health battles over the last few years, at 84, my father-in-law is still a rock star. He is a humble man who, for the most part, keeps his thoughts to himself. But ask him the right questions, and boy, does he have the most interesting stories to tell! And if he does ever have something serious to say, he looks into your eyes, touches your hand and speaks to your heart. I am an observer by nature, and each time I witness my father-in-law with his (now adult) children, I feel that each moment is so special that it deserves its own Norman Rockwell painting. And even if I am only in the background of that painting, it is something that I hope will hang in my heart forever.
- The Gentle Giant, my grandpa Pepe: Grandpa wasn’t a giant in stature, but his boisterous personality could be felt before you even walked into the room. He was strong, strict, loud, and he was a man to be feared…unless you were one of his grandkids. To us, Grandpa had a soft heart and a kind smile. The love he had for his family is indescribable because that kind of devotion barely exists anymore. He gave our family its backbone, which he passed down to his sons and daughters, and from them to us. Even though he is not here with us anymore, he is the reason our family’s greatest strength is each other.
- The Un-Step-Dad, my husband John: My husband has built a very unique bond with both of my girls in a way that is very unlike that of a stepparent (check out my “Un-Step-Dad” piece published on The Good Men Project). Some may think that a stepparent should be more involved with their stepchildren. And because I disagree with that notion, he forfeited his parental status with my girls and settled for their friendship instead. While this family structure might not be the norm, this type of relationship removes the obligation from each moment they spend together. Both John and my girls don’t have expectations of each other. They accept and love each other just as they are, flaws and all. His mere presence makes my girls smile. He is my constant reminder that being happy as a couple generates happiness around us.
- The Best Dad in the World, my Dad: When I think of my dad, my brain doesn’t just formulate a picture, but it also sends a feeling to my heart. When you have a person in your life who can make you feel something with a simple thought, I’d say you’re lucky. Though my dad worked a lot as I was growing up, when he was home, he was present. Instead of opting for some free time for himself after a sixty hour work week, he instead took me for bike rides, played catch with me, or let me sing while he played piano. He made the most of our time together, even if an hour was all he had to give. As a child, I remember describing to him, in detail, my obsession with The Babysitter’s Club book series, and he sat and listened the WHOLE time. But he listened…and those are the moments from my childhood that I remember as being important. Throughout my life, my dad has never inserted himself into my business. But if asked, he has always given an opinion worthy of consideration. He’s the type of person that always has me wondering what he’s thinking because I’m sure it is something I’d love to know. He’s always been supportive of my independence, and he’s always made me feel okay with my decisions, even if they weren’t what he would have chosen for me. As a father, he’s had the courage to let me fail, but has happily watched me succeed. He’s given me just enough of everything I ever needed in life, but not so much to make me lazy. Now that I’m an adult with a family of my own, time doesn’t allow for constant visitation. But because my dad has given me so much, it is easy for me to cherish the memories we’ve had and pass on the lessons he’s taught me to my own children. And every time my brain conjures up his picture, I smile and allow the love to shoot straight to my heart.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the wonderful dads out there!