Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day tribute

I know that Father's Day (like Mother's Day) can be a hard day for many.  Not everyone grew up in an ideal family situation, and as a chaplain, I've heard many stories of neglect, abandonment, and abuse.  I was lucky to have a loving and involved father, and yet still grieve his death over 30 years ago when I was a small child.  I'm left with a handful of photos and sweet memories...and also the holes that marked his absence from graduations, my wedding, and the birth of my children.  As I was growing up, Father's Day was spent at the cemetery with my mom and nana, "visiting" the graves of my dad and papa (my mom's dad), who died when I was in high school.

Dad and me, 1977


Papa and me, 1979
However, I was blessed by the love and guidance of many nurturing figures, both male and female, in my life.  My mom worked hard as a single mother to fill both parental roles, and as exhausting as I now understand that must have been for her, she did a wonderful job of making me feel loved and supported.  In my church, there were many faithful men who tried to offer fatherly guidance and love, and I am grateful for their presence.

 Joe Porter, me, and Pastor Phillip Woods at my high school graduation

I often tell those I counsel that while we aren't always given the family we long for, we are given the opportunity to create our own as we seek out supportive friends and a mate.  I feel beyond lucky to have married in to such a warm, loving, encouraging family.  My father-in-law, Dan Call, has embraced me from the beginning and has been an example of strength, wisdom, and kindness.  He is a great dad to John, his sister, Amy, and me, as well as being a wonderful Popaw to Brady and Maryn.  

My father-in-law, Dan Call, 2008
 I am most grateful, though, for his example and hand in raising the best father I have known.  I tell John daily that I couldn't make it without him, and yet I feel like that regular reminder isn't nearly enough.  I took for granted his involvement with our children from the very beginning, and scoffed when someone mentioned how wonderful it was that he was babysitting (it's not "babysitting" when it's your own child!).  But he has become the kids' primary caretaker, allowing me to work out my calling as a chaplain.  He manages our house, entertains and educates the kids, and brings in an additional salary through his coin business.  He does it all with little complaint and with an ease and skill that blows me away.  He is an example to me in how he engages Brady and Maryn in fun and silly ways, is involved and concerned without going over the edge like me, and how he embraces their dependence and his role as father.  While I will never become the esteemed "Proverbs 31 woman", I owe him much praise as he's the closest I know to a male equivalent!

John and our "angels", 2013
Happy Father's Day to all who provide that role in our lives, whether biological or not.

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