It’s an understatement to say that fathers play an important role in the family. Whether a person has sons or daughters, dads are a central figure. The role of a father is constantly changing as well. Families look different than they did fifty years ago, and so does the role of a father. According to National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, dads are more involved than ever, and the dads in my life are great examples of this. I was lucky to have grown up with a dad like mine. He was involved with our activities and our family, and he was a constant example of what I want my boys to be.
If you’ve ever gotten the chance to meet my dad, you probably haven’t forgotten him. If you are a waiter or waitress, you remember him because of his charm, and the way he can get you to smile even during a noon rush. If you are my friend, you remember him because he probably had a nickname that sort of had to do with your name. If you are a neighbor, you probably remember him because his tractors have both woken you up too early, and dug your car out of snow. We give my dad a hard time because of his silly jokes and his funny stories, but from him, my sister and I were gifted with sarcasm and wit. Although he did not pass down his sense of direction and green thumb, we still do a lot of things because dad taught us how. Some of those things have really stuck with me, and some things have not. My dad would take me to play tennis and basketball all of the time. I remember he and I would go on runs down a gravel road by our house. We used to say that we were so fast that no one could see us run, and we dried up puddles on our way home. I still love running to this day, and I know it’s because he got me started early. My dad not only took time out of his busy schedule for me, but he also instilled in me a love of exercise.
Another skill he tried to teach me was how to change a tire. I remember him giving me all the tools as I sat by the back tire, then handing me a manual and leaving me with it all for about two hours. When he came back, I was in the exact same spot he had left me and so was the tire. Thank goodness I married handy or I would be Triple A’s number one customer, but my dad tried.
My dad fits into the traditional category, but he also fit into many other roles when I was growing up. Not only did he work from dawn until sundown, he kept our cars working, he kept our furnace from quitting, and he kept our veggies fresh from the garden. Although he was busy, he’d be at our practices and our games religiously. To this day, I count on him to attend my own kids’ events. Even though they live 90 miles away, they still show up to take pictures and to cheer on my little dudes and dudette. Even though he is dad to me, to my kids he is “White Truck Papa” or “Papa Monster”. What they are getting from my dad is a model of a strong work ethic, a sense of humor, and the idea that hard work can be good work. Growing up, he was always there for me, and he continues to give me support throughout life. For that I am forever thankful.
When I was younger, I looked up to my grandpa so much. To me, he was Johnny Cash and John Wayne mixed into one. My grandpa could talk to anyone, and I still believe he could do anything. He made our younger years incredible, and he did so while he helped run the city and the county rodeo. My grandpa was so full of life, and I remember watching people’s faces light up when he entered a room. He knew how to work as hard as he played, but to me he was everything awesome. I wish I could tell him this myself, but writing it down feels good.
As fatherhood goes, the bar was set pretty high by my dad and grandpa, so it is pretty incredible that I found a guy who impresses me daily. My husband does many of the things my father did, so my life really did continue seamlessly in terms of handyman, car upkeep, etc. One of the things I love about my husband is his humor. He doesn’t speak much around people he doesn’t know (and he can’t get a word in at our house), but when he does speak it’s worth it. He’s got an analytical brain, and he puts up with all of my Gemini crazy. If something is broken at our house, all he needs are a few hours and the power of a few choice words, and it’s fixed. He has always coached my kids’ sports teams, and he is the person they go to for math help, and complicated questions that only he and Stephen Hawking know the answer to. My husband is a great model of what it means to be a good person. My sons and daughter are watching him work his way through life to try to attain his goals, and they are learning how they should be treated by others.
I may be able to contribute this type of living to my father-in-law. He is one of the most loving people I have ever met, and each time we see him I am in awe of his faith and goodness. He is a tremendous papa to my kids, and I love him like I’ve known him forever. I know my husband benefited from the kind of dad my father-in-law was growing up, and I’m hoping the cycle continues.
Men in our Life
Our kids are lucky in that they are surrounded by father figures in their lives. Our neighborhood is full of men that serve as good mentors, friends, and citizens. In our cul-de-sac, each house has a man in it that is showing my little ones the importance of hard work and love. We can count on our neighbors to keep our kids in line when they misbehave away from us, and most of these father figures have coached them in a thing or two. As we celebrate men on Father’s Day, it felt great to reflect on the good ones in my life.