Like Mother’s Day this tribute to fathers ran last year at this time. Why again? Well. . . it’s like dad’s brown shoes – he wore them day after day.
It’s hard explaining Fathers. Each is different. Each father brings different skills with which they make their contribution. Some are handymen, fixing everything in the house. Some are sportsmen, sharing the love of outdoors, fishing, and hunting. Some make work their special skill.
But here’s some things that all fathers share, or at least, I think they should.
Today is your day. We’re not too keen on these things, are we. Somehow it goes against what we see as our role as the “watch over person”. We’ve all seen holy cards of the Holy Family. There they are, Mary and the baby, front and center. Joseph is usually off to the side watching or standing over his wife and the child as protector. We like the background role.
In fact, we can sometimes “hide” in the back when things get sticky or uncomfortable. When tears or disappointment come to the children, it’s time for mom! She’s the expert in handling emotions or significant events . . . birthdays, in-laws, holidays, vacation plans etc.
So what DO you do, dad?
Can I tell you what I’ve seen you do? First off, you love your wife. She has the key to your heart. She is the one person who pulled you out of yourself when you were this whiney, selfish 20/30 something. She helped you discover that “to love” meant to “lay your life down”. You didn’t know that until you met her. Now your job is to make her life a joy.
The second thing is the children she gave you to hold. What profound stirrings you felt when each of your children looked up at you.
Somewhere came that particular “Father feeling” that said, “No one will ever hurt this child so long as I am here. You are safe with me dear one . . . do you hear that world?!!”
What else do you do, Dad?
You create a “place” that is warm, safe, and fun. Yes, it’s a place to live, but it’s more than that. Your strength and love and watchfulness brings about a place in which your wife and children can blossom and grow. They don’t have to worry, “are we okay here”?. They’re free from fear because you are there. You are like the house beams! -always there, quiet, holding things in place. The world is dependable . . . because you are dependable. You beat back the chaos.
Last on my list of things to thank you for is the fact that you didn’t give into me when you knew I was headed in the wrong direction. I could bully mom into going along with some silly scheme I thought was really cool. “Well honey if it will make you happy.” You wouldn’t budge.
“Rethink that”, you would say. “That’s not what we taught you.” You had several other sayings that went right to the heart of the matter. Things like . . . don’t give up. . . you disappoint me (ouch!) . . . do it the right way, not the easy way . . . I’m proud of you . . . don’t worry, I’ll be there. . . and (yes, dad you actually said this) . . . “I’m not your friend, I’m your father.” Dad, you saved us from our worst impulses.
Lastly, you show us something of God the Father. Strong, present, watching, protecting, our rock. You gave us a “place” of safety to discover who we are; you were strong enough to listen when mom knew us better. You gave up your crazy ways to be our dad. We are really glad you did.
Happy Fathers Day, dad. We love you.