Saturday, June 18, 2011

The beauty of a father

From my perspective, I can see the backs of our four little children as they crawl over an engaged and loving Daddy. This is not Father's Day morning. It's not his birthday either, though that's coming up fast. It's just another evening of romping around the house with Daddy after a long day of work. There are games he comes up with I never heard of in my life: "Gut the fish", "smoke 'em out", and "creature chase". Later I will see him reading to them, sounding out words and tracing them with his finger, counting change or encouraging one of their many science exhibits with his meaningful questions. Sometimes I homeschool and sometimes he does it and they benefit from seeing the difference in approach. I see him loading a dishwasher on the weekend, putting up clean clothes from the mounds only four children can generate, and taking out the trash that accumulates in much the same way. I watch him pay the bills, change diapers, and run errands. He was never a man who held our children like they would break. Watching him with our children in the hospital after they were born was a new occasion for me to love and appreciate him all over again. He is the only person in the world who loves them as much as I do. He's a father, a real man, one who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty raising our four wonderful children with me and is willing to make the sacrifices that result in the best life we can give our children. Sometimes it's hard missing out on vacations, dates, and doing things purely for ourselves but it's where we are with little ones at this time in our lives and at the same time it's our privilege and he knows it. I believe it is a gift willingly given. I admire him for it everyday.

My own father is very precious to me and I think of him not only on Father's Day but every single day. Having a wonderful person who uniquely understands and accepts you to support you when things are good and bad is invaluable. I am honored to be his daughter and to know him as a person and respect him for the hard choices he's had to make. I've seen him hold my children close, help them catch their first fish, and find Easter eggs. He is the kind of person who accepts people for where they are not expecting them to be more or less. When we are together, there is no past or future, it is simply the wonderful moment that we are in together. I have been told we are a lot alike, more than our obvious appearance. But I believe he possesses a calm spirit that I am still yet to learn. He is patient and compassionate. He is thoughtful and forgiving. There is a tenderness about him that only the strongest of men can comfortably bear in their character. I feel blessed to have him in my life and I am grateful for even the sound of his comforting voice in every conversation that we share.
My grandfather is a man of great character. He has taught me many things. I am in awe of his ability to see the good in the most impossible situation. He is steadfast. His heart is pure and he would take the shirt off his back to help a complete stranger. I do not ever see him slow down. I have never seen him choose himself when someone needed his help. I have watched him my whole life and I have observed the great love he has for my grandmother, one they never tried to keep private from me. I have never walked in a room where he did not acknowledge me immediately. I cannot open a book without thinking of how he brought me to enjoy them with his example and constant reading to me as a child. He is openly loving and holds his grandchildren and great grandchildren tight. He is the best of role models and I am as ever so proud to have grown up in his shadow.

My dear father-in-law is a robust, intelligent and entertaining man. He has always showered his family with happy stories and presiding at the head of table while doing so. He has the manners of a gentleman and carries himself in such a way that it is obvious that he was raised very well though I did not have the honor to know his parents. He is generous. He has always treated my husband, his son, with respect, love, and encouragement. He is an unabashedly proud father, and rightly so. He holds my little ones with tenderness and showers meaningful compliments on them and I am grateful for his influence in their lives and for the man that he is.

On this Father's Day, I am proud to be surrounded by such men. Men who are unafraid to show emotion and tenderness. Men who know who they are and are proud of it. Men who will shape the destiny of my own "little men" and also provide "reflecting pools" of what my little ladies will someday look for in their own husbands. May God guide them as they walk this important path.

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