Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday's Words for June 18, 2008

Fathers are amazing people.

In my life, up close and personal I’ve observed five fathers; my own—whom sadly I lost when I was only eight; my husband; his father; and my two sons.

Here is what I know about fathers. The best preparation for fatherhood is having had a good father, otherwise it’s all on-the-job-training.

Fathers are expected to provide for their families. Yes, I know, that sounds old fashioned and one-sided, and the truth is that in today’s economy both parents have to work, but the expectation still rests on Dad’s shoulders in the eyes of society-at-large. Fathers are not only expected to provide the home but to keep it safe and secure as well.

They’re expected to know how to fix everything from broken bikes to broken dreams; to be equally adept at chasing away nightmares and bees; to brave all the fierce elements of nature when necessary to retrieve a cherished item, a stranded pet, or a child. They are expected to be there, every hour, of every day, solid, dependable, a rock.

One of the things I’ve noticed at the pool I go to each day, is that it’s no longer just mom who takes toddler for her daily dip; sometimes it’s mom and dad, and often just dad. You have to remember that I’m no spring chicken, so to see this and to observe the care and consideration these dads exhibit really makes an impression on me.

My memories of my father are like tiny snapshots isolated in time. I can remember my daddy taking me to my bed and tucking me in by warming each of my blankets, one at a time, on top of the oil space heater that kept our small house warm in winter. And I recall one incident with my dad that even to this day makes me smile.

I had snuck from my bed and crept into the living room. I kept myself as small as a five-year-old could be, scrunched down beside the high arm of the sofa. I sat cross-legged and quiet, my long white nightgown tented tightly over my bent knees, just able to see the television and the forbidden movie that played there. The movie was forbidden only because it was on after my bedtime. I was the baby of the family and the only one supposed to be in bed.

“Would you get me a small glass of pop, please?” My father’s voice.

“You’ve got a cup of coffee.” My mother’s.

“Yes, I know. But I’d like a small glass of pop, too.”

I had heard the munching of potato chips; now I knew they also had soda. There were sounds of movement, and fearing discovery, I scrunched myself down lower, even as I tried not to think about the treats I couldn’t have.

“Here you go one glass of pop.”

“Thanks, sweetheart.”

In the next moment, a hand came down and dropped a small mountain of chips onto the cloth ‘table’ of my sleepwear. Before I could blink, there was a glass of cola being held in front of my face. I looked up to see my father’s smiling eyes and a ‘hush’ signal.

My eldest son Christopher is, I believe, just such a dad. The father of three, he has always involved himself in the lives of his children to an incredible degree. This time of year, when community sports teams thrive, he has but one evening off—Sunday. Each of his children, ranging in age from 9 to 16 years, is involved in at least one sport. He and his wife not only always attend each practice and game, they both volunteer with the teams, coaching some of them.

Chris is a true 21st century man. He’s employed full time in a supervisory capacity for an aggregate company. But that is only one facet of him. He cooks and cleans; he can make a pumpkin pie from scratch; and he can knit and sew. In his spare time, he writes. I’ve never seen him lose his temper or turn a child away—not even when it was obvious that child simply wanted to be the focus of attention in a room full of adults.

We women often lament the job of motherhood as being one that is 24/7 and never ending. But being a father isn’t easy, either. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart or the light of patience. It isn’t for anyone who seeks to occupy the center stage of life. The role of fatherhood is one for which the thanks are few, but the rewards great and long-lasting and far-reaching.

Today’s good father can look ahead, and know when he sees his son or grandson excel in their role as parent it is thanks, in no small part, to him.



Wingin' It said...

Very nice, Morgan. It's amazing how we can pull those little moments from our memories, the one's that turn out to be the most important of all.

Thanks for writing such a nice piece about dads.


Lara Santiago said...

This is lovely, Morgan.
One of my very favorite Wednesday's Words. :)