This Father’s Day marks a milestone of a different sort for me. I was 27 years old when my father died, 27 years ago. Which means, as of this year, I had a father for half my life. Though I wish it could have been more, I am one of the lucky ones when it came to dads. Mine was tender-hearted, fun, and faithful to my mother and to God. In a world where many are not as fortunate, I do not take this privilege lightly. I still miss him.
In the years since pancreatic cancer claimed dad’s life, I’ve come to appreciate some great dads and this column is my tribute to them.
Peter came into our family when he married my mother. At 30, perhaps I should have been more mature, but I remember crying over the idea that my siblings and I would be sharing our mother with a stranger. But that stranger turned out to be a sweet guy whom we quickly learned to love. It came as a blow to all of us when a year and a half after the wedding, we lost him to heart failure.
I began to suspect that hanging on to fathers was not my number one talent.
A few years later, a terrific fellow named John joined the family and I’m pleased to report he and mom have celebrated 14 anniversaries so far. May they enjoy many more.
And I did manage to hang onto my father-in-law for 35 years.
Early in our marriage, I witnessed my hubby become a dad. Like most new parents, we had no idea what we were doing or what we were in for. But when I observe other women forced into the role of both mother and father, my admiration soars both for those single moms and for my husband. I couldn’t have done it without his presence, and I find a special joy in seeing him interact with our kids now, as adults. Sometimes they ask his advice, sometimes they need to borrow his tools, and sometimes he requires their youthful brawn.
And now, I enjoy the blessing of watching one of our sons fathering and I am impressed. He’s a patient teacher, a gentle disciplinarian, and a happy memory-maker. He makes me proud.
My friend Jake Enns played the role of dad/big brother/mentor in my life for several years and I’m not sure who I’d be if it weren’t for Jake’s building into me and believing in me. Through his guidance, I learned to lead people and soar with the gifts God gave me. Jake turns 70 this weekend, and so this is a public Happy Birthday, too. God bless you, Jake!
I’ve also been privileged to observe friends take on their father role with courage. Several men come to mind, all guys I consider my brothers – Ken, Chris, Greg, Jerry, Ray, Derek, Tim, Doug, Larry, Noel, Nathan, Corey, Peter, Stan, Pat, Shaun, Dave, Shane, Paul…. I could name many more. I hope you guys know who you are and how much you are appreciated.
We live in a society that routinely undervalues dads. Too often there’s a valid reason for that. But I’m here to say a lot of great dads live among us, too. To them, I say thank-you, hang in there, and don’t let anybody tell you your role isn’t important. May the best Father of all fill you with joy in your journey and courage for the calling. You’re not perfect, but He is. He’ll help you when you ask.