Today I will think of all the spent hours of your life that translated into food for my body, clothing to cover me and as much security as you knew how to create. Today I will consider that you started out as a teenage man with little instruction in family life, except that you grew up in a family yourself. I will think about the times you changed your path and the uncertainty you must have felt as you searched for a better way to provide. I will think about why you would fall asleep in your chair at the end of all those long days – not from laziness or drunkenness or escapism, but because you were physically exhausted.
I will realize that as a human you probably experienced sadness, frustration, anger (oh yeah), despair and doubt and yet you never bothered us children with any of it. We had little knowledge of your struggles because you were a man and we were self absorbed children. You taught us how to work alongside of you, but you always worked harder and longer. And yet I can remember that you sang in the barn, and whistled and tried to yodel. You modeled that it was possible, and desirable to enjoy work. You gave me the idea that sometimes when trouble seems overwhelming the best thing to do is just go out and work at something. Sometimes the trouble loses interest and goes away unfulfilled. And at any rate, working is better than worrying.
As you’ve grown older with so many limitations ganging up on you, your persistence to do what you can inspires me (and scares me, but, hey… how can a nearly blind man on a rider mower cause any trouble?) I see you teaching lessons of humility (when Mom is right and you are wrong), lessons of love (when you rub Mom’s feet and wash the dishes), lessons of trust (when you put those unsolvable things in God’s hands). And you still whistle now and then and have Pandora playing on your cell phone, announcing your presence as you go. I honor you for all of that.
Today I will grieve that as a society we have almost lost the concept of honoring our fathers for anything. Temptations are everywhere, expectations are high, psychology focuses on faults and there is nothing that cannot be blamed on a father. I will remember how hard it is to be the head of anything, particularly a family. I will be thankful for you – that you have not run away, that you are my dad, my father.