I’ve been one of the lucky ones. It’s sad to report that there have been many kids that had their fathers abandon them, avoid their responsibilities, or even if around, they might as well as have been gone. Not my dad. He’s always been a family man, balancing work and home life. He doted – and still dotes – on our mother, spent time with us kids, and worked around the house. It couldn’t have been easy, especially when I was a teenager. In spite of this, I learned from him, what it means to be a man, a husband, and a father.
One of the lessons I learned from him was honor and integrity. If there was one thing that I could count on, it was that my father kept his promises. It’s hard to point to a specific situation, for honor isn’t dependent upon a single flashy example, but by a consistent setting of a standard. It’s the constant pounding of ocean water on the rocky shore. Each wave seems to have no effect, but over time, the water breaks the rock and turns the formidable stone into soft sand. That’s the way that my father was. His habitual example showed me that a single instance doesn’t make a man – or a woman – but the continuous effort to live one’s best life does.
However, one example does spring to mind. When I was twelve, I broke something valuable that belonged to a place of business and my father promised I would pay back the cost. He could have yelled at me and punished me for what I broke and forced me to earn back the money. He chose a better way. He found a number of people that needed their lawn mowed and landscaped. Every Saturday, we went to these homes and did lawn work. He was there for all of it, providing advice and assistance but not recriminations and blame. Over the course of the summer, I paid back the money for what I had broken and I had a greater love for my father as well.
A second lesson I learned from him was how to serve. He often thought of others and worked to provide for them when he could. He was a teacher by profession and I remember many times seeing him in the kitchen preparing some tasty treat for his students. I often felt jealous as I saw my father slather homemade icing over the humongous cinnamon rolls. It wasn’t a rare sight to see students come over to the house to get extra help on their assignments either. He was generous with his time and he wanted those he taught to do well.
He also helped out those in the community. If he found a person in need, he was there to provide for them. Sometimes he did yardwork for older people that had a hard time getting around, or providing for families that didn’t have enough to eat. I remember one time there was a man in his twenties that had a hard time getting a job and my father found him one. He also brought the man into our home, fed him, and we rented a movie and had a family night with him.
Lastly, I learned from him how a man must treat his wife. My father cooks for my mother, he runs errands for her, and provides for her comforts. If my mother wants to go out, for entertainment or some other activity, my father makes the arrangements so that they can enjoy their time together. He consistently seeks out her wants and her needs and provides them for her – the small desires as well as the large – if she is thirsty, he will give her favorite iced drink – just as readily as he will plan out date nights with her.
I could not have asked for a better example of a father in my life. I am grateful and I will always be grateful for his example and his life.