I have lived with two fathers in my life – the one I called "Dad" myself, and the one I chose to be "Dad" for my children on the day that I married him. They were very different men, but they both loved the children in their lives with every fiber of their beings.
That love was not expressed so much in the big things as it was in the everyday interactions between the man called "Dad" and the little ones to whom he made that title a reality. We don’t talk about it that way, but the importance of those everyday touches surfaces when we get together as adults and begin talking about the memories of our childhoods. We don’t talk about the big things, we remember, with laughter and sometimes tears, the little ones.
My Dad was building a business, so he often worked late. But when I had trouble with math in the fourth grade, he came home early and sat at the kitchen table with me for hours until he was sure that I had figured it out. He sat there every night for weeks, and never once made me feel like he had anywhere more important to be. And so I learned that I was valuable along with mastering long division.
And since he worked late, my sisters and I were often in bed when he got home. He would usually come upstairs to kiss us good night when he got in, even before he had his supper. If we had misbehaved that day, we listened to see if our mother told on us before he came up the steps. If she did, we were all "asleep" when he came to our door. He would stand there in silence for a minute and then go back down the steps. We would hear him say that we were already sleeping so he would deal with our behavior the following day. We, of course, were sure that we had fooled him; but looking back, I think that he must have had a terribly hard time not laughing out loud at the sight of three little girls snoring loudly. Somehow the whole thing was forgotten by the following day. And we learned that forgiveness is as important as justice.
Dad was demanding, expecting the best we had to give. But no matter when the event happened, he was sitting in the audience watching us. It didn’t matter if the daughter he was watching was the star of the show, or the last scrub off the bench – he was equally happy to be there. If we failed, and we sometimes did, he praised the effort, but then made us try again. And we learned that failure is not a final destination, but just a way station on the road to success as long as we didn’t quit.
They say that Dads give their children their first image of their heavenly Father. My Dad made sure that we knew that we were loved without reservation and without limits. I’d say he did a fairly good job of it.
On this Father’s Day, let’s all take a moment to reflect on the man who was Dad to us, and let him know that we recognize and honor how special it truly is to be a Dad.
Happy Father’s Day!