My father left my mother when I was two, moved 3,ooo miles away when I was eight, and left my life entirely when I was 12. On this Father’s Day, I want to thank him, wherever he is, for leaving. It was a selfish act at the time, but his absence gave the other fathers in my life the opportunity to be what he could not be, and in effect make me a better person than I would have been under his influence. I am eternally grateful, this Father’s Day, for all the other men in my life who have been my guides, my support, my teachers, mentors, and my loves.
First, the man who is Dad to me. He married my mother when I was four, and was determined to be a father to me in every sense of the word, from unconditional love, to discipline, to being there in good times and bad. He taught me through his actions and words that being a father meant more than being the sperm donor. He earned the title “Dad” through persistence and loyalty, trust and constance. He has always been there. Even now that my sister and I are grown, he is there for us, from late night hospital visits with our babies, to ultrasounds, to birthday parties, to snowblowing our driveways when husbands are out of town, to flowers that mark every special occasion, to advice when we need it…he is everything a father should be and more, and I owe my trust of men to him.
Second, my grandfather…my Pepiere. He is no longer with us. He passed on when I was sixteen, but his influence was so strong on me that I continue to miss him 21 years later. He was a simple man…by simple I mean, he was a homebody, liked his puzzles, his western novels and movies, and his country music station that played on the little radio in the kitchen. He liked his steak and potatoes, and would always sneak some to me off his plate when my Memiere wasn’t looking. 😉 He would take me along with him to run an errand, then we’d go to the local diner and share a slice of chocolate cream pie. He was an honest, loving family man who was the silent patriarch. He gave advice with his eyes, more than his words, and his parting left a hole. I believe I feel his presence now and then, especially when I’m enjoying my children. He’ll pop into my mind and heart unexpectedly, and I’m sure he must be proud of what he sees when he looks down upon my family.
Thirdly, a man named Jack P. He began as my sixth grade teacher, but became much more. He got me my first job when I was just fourteen, working at the local pool where he was director. He continued as a mentor to me becoming principal of the school along the way, and once he knew I was interested in teaching, invited me in to become a volunteer tutor. Fast forward several years. Once I was a certified teacher, he gave me my first break as a long-term substitute, and the year after that, he hired me to work in my old school as a special education teacher. He was my boss for two years, continuing to teach me, mentor me, and support me even though my methods were different than those around me. He retired then, and died of cancer less than a year later. Afterwards, I was blessed with a boss who has been a wonderful mentor and friend, but Jack was more like a father figure to me, and I still miss his sage advice. Several years ago, I was having a challenging year, and I had a vivid dream one night. I still remember it….I had walked down the hall of my school building, deep in thought, had walked into the main office, and calmly sitting there, with a smile on his face was Jack. He just looked at me and said, “Yes, I’m still around when you need me.” And that was it…but I remember the peace it brought me. I will always be thankful that he saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself at the time, and his trust in my abilities meant so much.
And the best for last…my husband, the father of my darling babes. Although he is not a father figure to me, he is the best father I have ever met in my life. I don’t know what I did to deserve a man like him to share parenting with, but I must have done something right along the way. This man never tires…everything he does, he does for the love of his family. He does something special with each of his kids every single day…ranging from board games to art projects, to dancing in the living room, to playing kickball, bike riding…the list goes on and on. And he talks to them…and he laughs with them…and he disciplines them when they need it. And he treats their mother with love and respect, teaching by example what his daughters deserve in a man, and what his son should be to a woman. He makes me a better mother.
There are other men to honor this Father’s Day, men who have been good to me and have brought love and joy to my life…my father-in-law for one, uncles, brothers-in-law, friends. But those four are the ones who have seen my potential, and helped me to reach it.
I have been so blessed! As I raise my own son, I look to these men in my life as examples of what a man should be. I pray that I may mother him in such a way, that I may grow a man worthy to join these men in the place of honor they hold in my heart.
Happy Father’s Day to the great men who give me hope that the world may be alright after all.