Dads don’t always get their due praise. Singing the praises of Mom seems to come easier but fathers… Dads… hear me loud and clear: you are irreplaceable. You are immeasurably influential. So for all the dads out there, including my dad and my husband… thank you! Allow me to sing a few praises to my dad:
- Dad ignited my love for stories. Early on, he both read and made up stories, (his best entitled “The Laughing Dragons”) complete with voices and sound effects. On a car trip once he began telling us a story that went something like this: “Once there was a brother and a sister, and their father was a lawyer, and they had this strange neighbor who never came out of his house… …” And lo and behold, this story ended up being my favorite novel. (In case you need a hint: “Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it…”) He told us lots and lots of Bible stories and I also recall lying in my parent’s bed with my sister while Dad read us “Tom Sawyer.” I think I was six and don’t remember much, but I do remember the vibrant colors of the picture of Tom and Becky on the cover of the hardback and I do remember liking it all—my dad’s animated voice, cuddling in their bed, the look and feel and smell of the big book.
- He could be really really silly. Still can be. And that’s just plain fun. To have as a dad, and now as “Grandpa”.
- He told me I was pretty and called me names like Sweetheart and said, “I love you.”
- Dad—former actuary—tried his darndest to tutor me through Algebra II and finally, when I promised him that no way, no how, would I ever use it in real life, (and bless her heart, my teacher agreed) he let me drop it. Hallelujah.
- He took us places. The zoo. Bike rides. Mountain hikes. Camping. Neighborhood parks, state parks, national parks in part because….
- He loved, loved, family vacations. Months in advance, he’d spread open the big Rand Mcnally map across the dining room table and pinpoint our route. I’ll admit, I wasn’t always an eager participate but a package of RainBlo bubble gum helped, as did singing “America the Beautiful” at the top of my lungs out the car window. My sister and brother and I saw a lot of America from the backseat of an unsightly yellow station wagon we affectionately dubbed Old Yeller. I have a vivid memory of zooming through downtown Chicago at wee hours in the morning, the skyscrapers lit up, the roads empty, my dad driving and me awake, and in that moment it felt like our Chicago, Dad’s and mine.
- I remember watching him give food to people holding cardboard signs along the side of the road. He was and is generous with both his time and money—and there’s an orphanage/church in Haiti who knows this firsthand.
- He taught me what was right and wrong. He pointed out good and evil. Yes, the world bears a lot of gray, but there are times when parents simply need to spit out the truth and call a spade a spade.
- He loves my mom. Don’t underestimate the importance of those four simple words.
- He knows he is a sinner, in need of and saved by grace, and he’s not ashamed to admit it. He’s not afraid to say he’s sorry, or pray in public, or tell people about Jesus.
No family attains perfection, not the one I grew up in nor the one I have now. But there can be a whole lot of good without perfect. I am blessed that both my dad and husband have stepped up to the call to father with love and integrity—who are not only good good men, but also good, good dads. Thank you Dad.
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