Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Matter of a Dad

A man who sits near us in church has three children; two boys and a girl, all under the age of eight, with the little girl the youngest. He is a single parent. The boys are always sharply groomed, their clothes pressed, belts and ties in place. The little girl has glossy brown, shoulder length hair. Every Sunday, her hair is either French braided, elaborately done with a bow, or pulled back into a sleek ponytail, all far beyond the capabilities of a four year old.

Her dad told me once that after the mother had left their lives, he resolved he would do all he could to lessen the sting of her loss for them. That included getting instruction on doing little girls' hair from his sister and practicing long hours. That he can coax the nimbleness from his stiff welder's fingers to craft her hairdos and the starched perfection of their clothes is a daily declaration of his love.

And I believe even when her shiny brunette hair has gone softly white, that little girl is going to think of her dad and know she's been gifted with the richest inheritance a parent can leave.





Another man we've known for years has always worked hard, sometimes two and three jobs simultaneously, to provide the best living he can, allowing his wife to stay home and care for their children. When it came time for his eldest daughter's wedding and he was working several hours away on a job he needed to pay for the grand wedding he insisted she have, his employer told him he could get paid only if he worked the entire job to full completion. He agreed because he wanted his girl to have the very best, even though she assured him all she wanted was for him to be there, walk her down the aisle, and dance that father/ daughter waltz with her.

This included even working the day of his little girl's wedding. As circumstances would have it, delays that final day pushed his time of departure dangerously back. "Baby, I'm coming! I'm almost there," he assured in a phone call to her as she put on her white gown at the church. Guests gathered and the church filled. Others despaired he would arrive in time, but the bride had an unshakeable faith that her dad would make it.

"Honey, I'll be there! Traffic is backed up, but your Daddy's on his way! Get into place- you can always count on Daddy!" he declared to her in another phone call just five minutes before the scheduled start. She never  waivered in her belief he would be there.

At precisely the moment the wedding was to begin, he flew in the doors of the foyer, changed quickly into his tux and walked his baby down the aisle. His tears ran freely with each slow, measured step they took to the altar, and the look on his face as he presented his girl at the altar to her adoring groom ensured there were not many dry eyes in the church.

It wasn't until later, when he took her into his arms for the father daughter dance, that it was evident he hadn't even had a moment to wash his grime covered hands, so intent was he on making it in time. But he was true in his promise to her. His oil smudged hands proved that yes, you can count on Daddy, no matter what.




I once had a twelve year old student who loved to fish with his dad and little brother. They often walked to their favorite fishing spot, fishing poles over their shoulders, because it gave them time to talk together. Railroad tracks ran near their house and they took the shortcut along those tracks, even though it included walking over a railroad bridge than ran across the creek. "Don't worry son, I'll take care of you," the dad said one time when his older son expressed fear that a train would come while they were on the bridge.

As the situation would have it, one day the winds picked up considerably while they were on the way home, on the bridge. Those winds roared loudly in their ears.

The train was almost upon them before they realized it. The last thing the older boy heard his dad say as he pushed both boys off the bridge and into the water below was, "I've got you! Take care of your brother!"

Even now, 20 years later, the echo of his father's final words still resonate in that now grown boy. Not only does he honor his dad's words by still looking out for his brother, their mom, and his own young sons, but he now also takes care of countless other little brothers and sisters as the director of a Boy's and Girl's Club. If a young person hits a rough patch, he reminds them of the family they have there at the center and tells them the story of his dad. He repeats his father's words to them, "I've got you. Take care of your brothers and your sisters," knowing from personal experience that the greatest, most rewarding love is the kind that lays everything down to serve others.

Amazing daddies are priceless. I see such wonderful examples of fatherhood in my own dad and my husband, and of course in our Heavenly Father whose extravagant love is boundless. Despite all the examples of rotten dads we read about so often, there are so many more good guys out there than bad. To all you dads and grandfathers, happy Father's Day!

62 comments:

  1. This is such a beautiful, touching tribute to all the amazing dads out there!! Your posts always touch my heart and now I'm all sniffly. My husband and I never planned on having children but now that we have our son and I see what a great dad he is, I think what a shame it would be if we had remained childless and I never had the opportunity to see that side of him. Thank God for great dads!!

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    1. Jenn June: I second that, thank God! What would we do without them? I love how you and your hubby parent your son- he's a blessed little boy.

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  2. A father's love for his children is something I felt deeply all my life. This bond is something that helped me to let go when my daughter wanted to live up north with her dad. No matter how different we are as people, because I felt the love that my father had for me, I knew that I didn't want my daughter to never have that understanding. I had established and continue to renew my love for her, without keeping her from the direct experience of knowing her dad in more than just a custodial, part time way. It was difficult, is still difficult for me. Although I was educated by some very committed feminists, I never bought into the political idea that men are anything less than women when it comes to contributions they make to their families. I love that you have told some great stories about Dads.

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    1. Jenny: You are such a wise and brave woman for realizing the difference having such a bond with her dad would mean for your daughter and then making that huge sacrifice for her. You have my undying admiration. Kids need their dads as much as they need their moms, period.

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  3. What a beautiful post! This made my morning!

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  4. I enjoyed reading each of these stories, Shelly, even the heart breaking one of the dad giving his life for his kids' safety. I truly admire that man raising his children alone and trying to do the best he can with them and the dad pulling out all stops to get to his daughter's wedding in time to walk her down the aisle. My dad died when I was 18 months old, never knew the joy of having a dad around. Hubby is a great dad and of course our Heavenly Father is the best dad!! I hope your husband and father have a great Father's Day!

    betty

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    1. Betty: I am so sorry you lost your earthly dad at such a young age, but you have found the best father of all, our Heavenly Father. Thank you for your warm wishes!

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  5. This is an inspiring Father's Day trilogy, Shelly. My eyes grew misty imagining those large, stiff, clumsy welder's hands somehow fashioning the little girl's hair into an intricate work of art. The grime on the second father's hands at his daughter's wedding was surely regarded as a badge of honor to be worn proudly as a symbol of his love and sacrifice. The third father made the ultimate sacrifice to save his children and it spurred his son to dedicate his own life to helping other kids.

    I was lucky to have grown up in an era when most kids had a mother and a father. My parents were well into their 30s by the time I was born and therefore were a half generation older than my friends' parents. I always looked up to my dad. My respect for him has grown as I get older because I remember how he summoned the energy to play sports with me like the younger dads did even though he was in his 50s by the time I was in my teens. Any man can father a child and then split the scene. Real men "man up" and make a lifelong commitment.

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    1. Shady: You have written words of great truth. You were a blessed man to have had a dad like you did, willing to sacrifice and be so constant in your life. I give a hearty AMEN to your statement that real men man up and make the lifelong commitment. That's truly what it is.

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  6. Oh, my goodness! What a wonderful post...loved the first story, about the dad and his little girl's hair. I am touched by all the stories...

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    1. The Brown Recluse: It touches my heart to see his little family, so spiffed up, and the examples he sets for all of them. Thank you for stopping by!

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  7. I am glad that they would happy and good stories. They warmed my heart. I needed that today. There are a lot of great fathers out there. Sandie

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    1. Sandie: There are so many good dads out there. I wish more of the spotlight was on them, instead of the bad ones.

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  8. You are so right. Amazing Dadys are indeed priceless. This is such a good post. I agree we should focus on good dads rather than bad ones. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Munir: Absolutely! I think by focusing on the good ones, younger men would see the example of what they should be.

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  9. Thank you Shelly for another masterpiece of writing that touched me deeply.

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    1. Odie: Thank you so much, my friend!

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  10. This was beautiful, Shelly, and so very true! I have a lump in my throat. My dad worked very hard to provide for us growing up and I'm extremely grateful for him. My husband is a wonderful dad, too. Thanks for remembering the good men out there!

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    1. Kelley: A wonderful father is one of the greatest blessings we can have.

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  11. Yes, how grateful I am for the good dads in my life. That father that braids his daughter's hair puts me to shame--I need to up my game. :)

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    1. Nancy: He actually braids better than I do!

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  12. Well, maybe I'm just extra emotional on the subject of dads right now, but those stories brought tears to my eyes. I love to read about good fathers - their impact is so important. And thank you for commenting today for my dad. I'm hoping many will, and that he'll have great fun reading them while he convalesces.

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    1. Karen: I hope he does, too. Good dads are worth it!

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  13. The last story made me cry...........dads are so special and so important to a childs life it is terrible that some men fail at being a dad it is the greatest job any man can do.....
    My dad is awesome and so is hubby

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    1. Jo-Anne: So true- the most important job for any father is being a good dad.

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  14. All three of these are marvelous posts that brought tears to my eyes. I only wish my dad was still with us so I could wish him a Happy Father's Day. And I agree with you that, despite what we see on TV, most fathers are good guys who would lay down their lives for their children.

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    1. Stephen: It's so true- the good ones vastly outnmuber the bad. Your dad sounds like he was such a neat man~

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  15. Shelly,
    Thank you for those heartwarming"dad stories".

    Thank God for each and every one of them!

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  16. Honestly, seeing amazing dad stories or examples of great fatherhood resets my faith in humanity.

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    1. Lydia: In my line of work, I have seen some shockingly horrible examples of fatherhood, but by and large, I think most men are out there, doing the best they know how to be good dads.

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  17. Dearest Shelly,
    Wow, what great stories of amazing daddies☆☆☆
    Actually, my father had worked as a lathe worker, having 2-shift(a week of day and a week of night work). He tried to take care of us as much as he could. I appreciate him very much as I knew he must not have had much time to sleep, haha.
    Oh, the father in the last story... could not read without tears in my eyes.
    And my husband's father died after he had 2 boys (he was weak fought in the war) when my husband was 5 years old, hubby heard from his mother how much he wished to see his sons grow.
    "Fatherhood" I just can guess from my own, but I feel lucky that I have the one whom I can proud of.

    For the last, "our Heavenly Father whose extravagant love is boundless"; I think it is really GREAT you all have him to revere. It sure sounds wonderful for me while ours basically respect for our ancestors.

    Wish your have wonderful Father's day♡♡♡ Love you always from east, xoxo Miyako*

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    1. Orchid: It so moved me to read of your husband's dad- there aren't many sorrows greater than not getting to see your kids grow up. I am so thankful you have such a great dad, and that you are still such a vibrant part of his life.

      And yes, it is a huge comfort to have God to love and be loved by.

      Have a wonderful day, my dear friend Miyako!

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  18. These stories were so tender. There are few things more powerful in this life than a good man. The story about the father that gave his life to save his sons brought tears to my eyes. Of course he would give his life for them. Of course.

    Lovely lovely post, Shelly.

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    1. Crystal: To give up your life for your child is something that sounds like it would be so difficult, but in reality I think would be the easiest choice of all. Hands down.

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  19. Visiting from Sweet Tea's! What wonderful stories. tears in my eyes! :)

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    1. Mary: Thank you so much for stopping by! I am headed over to yours~

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  20. Oh, Shelly. :-) You sure can write.

    Pearl

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  21. Seems like most people have a good dad. Not all of us did and the after-math of a "missing dad" reach far and wide. My parents divorced and not having my dad in my life left a huge hole.HOWEVER, I met a man who is a wonderful father and I count my blessings for what I now have.

    Cheers to all the great dads out there!

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    1. Christine: My heart often breaks who have that missing dad in their lives. It causes such hurt and desolation, all the more proof of how important it is for kids to have a good dad in their lives. I'm so glad you met your hubby and you all have the great family you have!

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  22. Shelly, thank you for sharing. Very lovely. Blessings.

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    1. Just Be Real: Thank you, friend!

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  23. Thank you for shairing such a lovely and poignant post, Shelley!

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    1. Romance Book Haven: Thank you, my friend!

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  24. These stories were heartwarming, emotional and truly beautiful, Shelly.

    I’m so very proud of my wonderful husband for being a dad like these good men, especially when his own father was nothing like that whatsoever—neither was mine. Sometimes people tend to focus too much on the influence of a mom and forget what a tremendous influence fathers can have in shaping the lives of their children. Happily, our daughter grew up knowing a kind-spirited and loving dad who she dearly loves and respects. :)

    --Susan

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    1. Super Earthling: I always think it says so much about a person when they are able to break free from destructive patterns they experienced as kids from their parents to become such good parents themselves. It really says so much about them~

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  25. Dear Shelly, thank you. This tribute is a poignant and loving reminder of the gift of caring fathers in our lives. And thank you for helping me remember my father, who died at age 69 in 1975 when I was 39. He loved me unconditionally. I always knew that and counted on it.
    Peace.

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    1. Dee: I am so glad you had a wonderful dad. It makes all the difference in the world in how we, especially girls, view ourselves, I think.

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  26. These beautifully written vignettes are just the ticket for this week. I like to think that most dads do their best; but of course the ones that are most publicized are the ones that fail.

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    1. vanilla: I think so, too, that there are far more good dads out there than bad. Happy Father's Day!

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  27. oh lovely examples of what we are sometimes to busy to see.
    Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers who chose life!!

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  28. This post gave me chills. Thank you for writing it.

    The love of a parent to his/her child can be so strong, so absolute. I cherish my father.

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    1. Theresa: It is the bedrock by which the rest of our lives are built, absolutely.

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  29. Those stories are beautiful! I never experienced much from my own father and the man who is the father of my children, never put himself out for them. Ray is kinder, even though my children are not his, he shows them love. The fathers love helps us to know, Gods love. xxxxxxxxx

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    1. Crystal Mary: You are so right. And good for Ray for showing kindness and love- that's a true father's heart!

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  30. Oh, that was a beautiful tribute to the good dads out there!!

    That first story makes me think of this teacher my 9 year old has right now, she's in a "Project Runway" camp from 9-noon this week, it's a sewing camp--because I can't sew anything but straight lines and don't have the patience or time to teach that to my girls! She's loving it.

    I was very surprised the first day to be greeted by a young man, yes, I said "man" teaching the class!!! She's learned the backstitch, some over stitch, sewed bean bags and is working on a pair of shorts now....I'm going to ask him if he's a dad yet. I watched him today take extra care of the girls who were either being picked up or leaving on their bikes to make sure they were safe...such potential if he's not a father yet.

    Gosh, I got way off there, I need some adult conversation!!!!

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  31. Now that is an amazing man. I am so glad your daughter gets to learn from him. I would love to better my sewing skills. Someday...

    Jamie, I can't comment your post. It won't let me type in those word verification letters, so I will try later when we have a break from this conference.

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