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Fathers I Have Known and Loved

June 17, 2012

Why is it so much harder to write a tribute to fathers on Fathers Day than to honor mothers on Mothers Day?

Well, for starters, Mothers are still honored in our society.

Fathers, not so much.

 

You can fault angry feminists for turning Father Knows Best into Homer Simpson and dozens of other sitcom “lovable loser ” dads. Or you can argue that art reflects culture, and that men are portrayed as weak and irresponsible because so many are. In a world of deadbeat dads and never-married 30 year olds with a string of Baby Mamas, even a male chauvinist, chronic womanizer like Mad Men‘s Don Draper (c. 1966) looks like a great father in comparison. Arguably, he was there for his children.

But this isn’t a diatribe against men or fathers.  It’s a tribute to the fathers who have graced my life and blessed it.  I am grateful to these men because they were Real Men who did the things a good father does.

A good father leads by example. He demonstrates what character, integrity, and responsibility  look like to his children. He provides for his family. He sacrifices for them. He disciplines when necessary to show that behaviors and choices have consequences. He makes the hard choices. Through good days and bad, he loves his family and wants only the best for them. He leads. He loves. He is committed.

To the Fathers in My Life

To Sale, my father, whose confident masculinity, strength, keen intelligence, charm, and good looks   are echoed in the character of Don Draper, I owe my work ethic and perseverance. Thank you, Daddy, for doing what you thought was best for me. Especially the hard things. Your influence throughout my life has been so much greater than you imagined it would be when I lost you at age  26.

To Lionel, my professional mentor, first business partner, late husband, boon companion, and father of my precious son Nelson, I owe my sanity, maturity, and first seeds of  wisdom. Thank you for showing me how to be a grownup. And a parent. And what Christian joy and love for others looks like. Thank you for providing for us when you left us too soon. Thank you for pouring yourself into Nelson the first seven years of his life. He is a legacy you can be proud of.

As for Eddie, my husband and beloved, I owe you most of all. You became a father to a fatherless boy. You showed him how to be a good man, a good husband, and a good father. Your love for all your children, both sired and acquired, is boundless. You are there always, in the background of their now-adult lives, never wavering in your prayers and commitment. They have seen you suffer, fall, and stand tall again, all because of God’s grace. I honor you this Father’s Day, for the man you are and the father you are. You are the evidence that God loves me despite all my failings, mistakes, and selfish choices.

While motherhood holds a certain magic, a special mystique, there is no real mystery in fatherhood. You know the qualities that make a wonderful father, even if your own earthly father fell short. Those qualities are written on our hearts. They are the qualities of God: abounding love; limitless love; love that sacrifices. Tough love, love that disciplines in our best interests, love that desires for each of us to have the abundant and eternal life he planned for us.

On Father’s Day, remember your father. Reconcile with him if you have been distant or estranged. If you are a father, be one. For pointers, read the Book. Because your Father knows best.

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