You Don’t Have to be a Father to be a “Father”

It’s been a short 18 months and yet it feels like forever.  I remember the nursing home and the 2 hour drive to get there, first of endless highway then of winding wooded roads.  I can still see my dad during his last months and remember his concern that his once thick, straight, jet black hair, now thinning and white, was getting too long.  That the nails on his once strong masculine hands, now too weak to even hold a fork, needed to be groomed.  I remember reaching for the hair  buzzer he had carried with him to his new room and standing behind him while he tried to keep upright in his wheelchair and respectfully and lovingly beginning to buzz his hair.  The hands that used to hold me to the ceiling as a child while he would dance around the room singing “que sera, sera” were now in my hands and those of my brother and sister.

Today as I sat by his graveside, eyes closed, hearing every bird, smelling each blade of grass, and feeling the wind on my skin, I know that the connection remains and that a big part of who I am today is because of him.

And it made me realize that it begs the question, especially on Father’s Day, what is it to be a father?  Anyone can biologically create, but it’s a select few who can truly be a dad.  It is those who have the ability to unconditionally love, to sit back and, while it may pain them,  watch us make mistakes so we can learn and then help to put the pieces back together when we fall.  They sacrifice time and pieces of themselves for us.  They wearily pick up the phone at 4:00 in morning because their daughter calls to say there’s a flood in the bathroom.  it’s coming to the rescue when they get a call to say their child is stuck on the highway with a newborn;it’s hearing, “Dad, I don’t know what to do”, and without giving the answer, he says something that puts you back on track.

But what about those who have lost a father, either due to illness or other circumstances?  Or to fathers who may have lost a child to an accident or  untimely sickness?  There are men in our lives, uncles, brothers, friends, who step in to provide the same loving guidance and sacrifice that many “natural” fathers don’t or can’t.  Without even knowing it, they have significant impact on a child’s life.  So, today, let’s take a minute to appreciate and thank all the men in our lives who have been a “father” and who continue to shape our lives and our selves.

And that’s my two cents for whatever it’s worth … Happy Father’s Day!