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Honoring Our Fathers

Virginia Alice, author of "HONOR ONE ANOTHER: The ABCs of Embracing Our Spirit Within," writes about fitness, marriage, values, and writing.

Magnificent Sunrise

Magnificent Sunrise

Honoring Our Fathers

I’ve been thinking about fathers lately and how not everyone is blessed to be born with a good dad. And sometimes, even if we have a good dad, we might think he wasn’t because he didn’t spend enough time with us. Or maybe he couldn’t hold a steady job. Or he might have had a bad habit we didn’t like. And there are endless reasons why we may not have had a dad in our life at all – divorce, death, unknown circumstances, to name a few – or why we may be at odds with our dad – too high or too low expectations, misunderstandings, falling into someone else’s story and being critical without getting to know our dad first.

For those of us who’ve been there done that, we get it. I get it. I had a daddy who I didn’t know as well as I could have, who I knew more through others' eyes rather my own. And, although most memories of my daddy are fond ones, I realize this is not so for others. Despite this, I also realize we each have our own story to tell.

Growing Up With My Daddy

My daddy was a quiet man. When he wasn’t home, I missed him terribly. I’d rock back and forth on my feet at the front screen door and repeat over and over, “Daddy come home, daddy come home.” My momma says it drove her crazy but didn’t stop me as she knew it was my coping mechanism. When my daddy finally came home, I wanted to run up to him and hug him forever. But mostly, I didn’t. It was enough for me to just have him home again.

As I got older, I remember him caring for our property wherever we were living. He had a fantastic green thumb and could grow almost anything. I can still see the rose bushes he tended where we first lived and then later across from his parents. He’d grow rose cuttings and cuttings of orange, grapefruit, lemon, and peach trees, to sell at the farmer’s markets. For many years, he was a landscaper for an RV park in a neighboring town. The interesting thing is I believe it was the weed killer he used that killed him. He died in June of 1980 from black melanoma cancer. It was hard to lose him at seventeen years old, but it was even harder on my momma and my seven younger siblings.

My daddy shaped my life in many ways. Not just in the care he gave me during my first year of life, but in other ways. Sure, I got my share of spankings from him, but what I remember most is him teaching me to cook breakfast. Most importantly, he taught me about commitment and responsibility by sticking with us eight kids through thick and thin. And he believed in me and loved me, even when I disappointed him the most.

It’s been forty-two years since he passed away. Like my siblings, I imagined him being around to see his grandchildren. But life often has other plans. What still impresses me most is his love for us kids. He could have left us all, being he and my momma were in an arranged marriage. Eventually, you learn you don’t have to stay married if you don’t love each other. But the one thing my daddy and momma did was love us kids enough to keep us together. They witnessed families torn apart and kids divided due to death or divorce, and they didn’t want that for us. I’m forever grateful they loved us so much to make the ultimate sacrifice of selflessness for the greater good of our family.

When Choosing Hubs

The man I chose to marry reminded me so much of my daddy that I almost didn’t marry him. Both my daddy and hubs have the same first name, are from farming families, and were born with blue eyes. So, I questioned if I was enamored by a man who simply reminded me of my daddy. Finally, the things that most attracted me to hubs won out. Plus, when I first laid eyes on hubs, I didn't know he had the same name as my daddy.

Hubs was a good father to our young son even though he spent much time on shiftwork. Despite not attending all our son’s school or sports events, he taught him the importance of holding a job and supporting his family, even when it isn’t the easiest thing to do. And hubs joined me in raising our son to be honest, giving, and helpful to others.

And Now Our Son is a Father

Our son has turned out to be a wonderful husband and father. I like to think his parenting style is a hybrid of what he learned from both his parents and from textbooks. But, ultimately, it is all him. He has a generous, kind soul; and being a teacher, he is often teaching his children things I never considered teaching him when he was a child. My heart grows a size each time I see him interact with them, whether he is teaching, correcting, playing with, or loving them.

Acknowledging Other Father Figures

There are several good men who were father figures in my older teen years. Some are no longer living, but I'm forever grateful for the role they played in my life. One of them was my stepdad. He came into our lives a few years before my daddy died and hung around for a while. One thing I remember most is him trying to teach me to change a tire and the oil in my car. Given my age, I resisted. I still don't do either; so maybe I'm just not mechanically minded.

Words of Encouragement & Appreciation

We all need a little “father” in our life, a good father who loves us, who holds us close, who believes in us. I hope you have such a father in your life. Someone you can look to for guidance when things seem a little off. Whether it’s your own dad or someone who has acted as a surrogate father, it’s nice to have a pillar in times of growth, a hand up in times of need, and a shoulder in times sadness.

I know this isn’t always the case though. If your relationship with your father isn’t what it could be, consider making amends with him. Life is short. We don’t always get the time we think we’ll need to work things out. Trust me, I know. Life just goes by way too fast. One moment you’re a little girl with dreams in your eyes, and the next your daddy is gone.

So, if your daddy is still living, I hope you take time to reach out to him. Give him a call. Send him a card. Take him to dinner. Take time to consider the role he's played in your life and try to learn more about his story, what he liked, how he thought and loved and sacrificed. For it isn’t until we have children of our own that we start to view life through our parents’ eyes. Only then, do we come to understand so many things.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Virginia Alice Crawford

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