Last month I wrote about the importance of our mothers in setting each of us on our individual paths through life by giving us their unconditional love. This month, in honor of Father’s Day, I’d like to pay tribute to the fathers in our lives who are just as important as mothers in giving their child a running start to a happy and successful life.
As a father myself I feel like I know how important it was in my young sons’ lives that I was present to set a good example and be a role model for them to do right and become the upstanding men they are today. They are both fathers now themselves, and I often see myself in them as they work to be strong influences in the lives of their children.
Being a good father and grandfather has been the privilege of a lifetime for me, but it wasn’t always a walk in the park. There were lots of good times, of course, but I also remember times when it was a struggle to make ends meet. Today I often talk with the young parents who come to us for assistance, and I understand that they have had to swallow their own pride to ask for help keeping food on the table and a roof overhead for the sake of their kids.
Of course, I know that not everyone has the good fortune of having a father in their life, and that is a shame. It’s not impossible to go forward and have a successful life without one, but I believe it is a lot harder. Fathers and father figures provide structure and a sense of security, and I believe that kind of stability is important and necessary for young people as they develop into adults and go their own way.
Fathers have a way of seeming like superheroes to us when we are children. Then as we become older and surer of ourselves their shine often begins to wear off. But then as more years go by our perceptions change again. I liked how Mark Twain put it: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”
One of my staff members, SuzAnne Runge, lost her dad in February of this year. While he lived to the ripe old age of 90 years, and SuzAnne was blessed by having him in her life for a good long while, she still misses having him there to talk and laugh and play cards with and to ask about all kinds of things. Bob Runge was a Korean War veteran who rode in the convertible with me in several of the past Waynedale Memorial Day Parades. One of SuzAnne’s recent memories of time spent with her dad was when she accompanied him on Northeast Indiana’s 24th Honor Flight. It was a day-long whirlwind tour of the monuments and memorials of our nation’s capital. Bob enjoyed it so much he wanted to go again.
Thank you for listening to my thoughts on fatherhood. I hope all of you take time on Father’s Day to think about those father-figures who have helped you and been influential in your life. Reach out, if you can, to tell them what they have meant to you. They will appreciate it, and you will be rewarded for your efforts.
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