When a man walks in integrity and justice, happy are his children after him. – Proverbs 20:7
When we were little, I remember Dad getting annoyed every year on Father’s Day. Why? Because he was convinced that at the Father’s Day celebration of Mass, dads were given short shrift by the priest as compared to moms on Mother’s Day. In particular, he was pretty cranky about a certain Father’s Day sermon in which the priest said that fathers should be mindful of, and thankful for, their wives because without the wives they wouldn’t be fathers. I can’t rightly say whether or not that’s what the priest said as I was probably not listening but instead planning what antics my Barbie doll was going to be up to when I got home. But Dad talked about that sermon the rest of his life.
I don’t know if any of that is true, but if perception is reality, then it was certainly true for Dad. It wasn’t true at our Mass yesterday, however, because the priest recognized and blessed the fathers three or four times throughout the Mass, as he should.
What’s more important – at least to me – is that not once did the priest ask the dads to stand. I hate when they do that on Mother’s Day. While it’s true that I can stand, I look around at the women who are unable to stand proudly for any number of reasons. How sad many of them must feel. Perhaps childless men don’t feel the same way.
Dad was on my mind all day yesterday. I could hear the sound of his voice. I saw in my mind’s eye the twinkle of his blue eyes. At one point as I was preparing dinner for family, I found myself starting one job before I finished the previous job. “You’re just like a tsetse fly,” I recalled my dad would have said to me. I don’t know why he said that, as tsetse flies are biting insects from Africa which probably don’t flit around like I was, but that’s what he would have said, because he often did.
I’ll bet if you asked each of his four kids to tell you about Dad, we would all tell a different story because of our age difference. For example, Bec, being the first-born, was featured on a Christmas card Dad sent friends and customers. She was dressed in bakery whites with a chef’s hat sitting crookedly (and adorably) on her head. No Christmas cards featuring any of the rest of us kids. Just sayin’….
But every one of us would say that Dad was a remarkable man. He taught us all to work hard. He modeled honesty and fairness. He loved his family, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Denver Broncos, the Colorado Rockies, music, and baking. He was sociable and funny, and fiercely loyal to those he called friends. As a kid, he had a very good friend who had an accident that resulted in his losing both arms. Dad became his arms for everything. And they were friends until the day Dad died.
He wasn’t afraid of being adventuresome. His fearlessness was demonstrated by his willingness to give up everything in Columbus and move to Leadville, nearly sight unseen, to run a bakery in the mountains. He made the best of everything, as evidenced by the fact that he not only bought a bakery, but a horse as well! When in Rome…
And I think he showed us how to parent. He wasn’t particularly demonstrative, at least as a young father. I think he became more openly affectionate later in his life. But as the son of Swiss parents, kissing and hugging weren’t the norm. Still, none of his kids doubted his love. Never.
I hope all the fathers who have stumbled upon this blog had a great Father’s Day. And I hope that you can all play as important a role in your children’s lives as did our dad, who walked in integrity as did no other!