For Father's Day

Originally in Abilene Families

My daughter became adult-sized long before she was adult shaped or even out of elementary school. Passing five feet tall in fourth grade, she had a difficult time growing into her long legs and ginormous feet that she inherited from her mother.

One night several years ago, due to events none of us ever understood other than the gravity of the earth, her feet came completely out from under her while walking into the kitchen. With hands full of dishes to put away, the entirety of her adult-sized body landed on her tailbone on the tile floor. While my husband and I stood over her trying to help her, it quickly became obvious that even if there were something you could do for an injured tailbone, we didn’t know what it was, and simply watching her cry and writhe in pain was heartbreaking.

So he squatted down and without a groan or moan scooped up her adult-sized body as if she were still a toddler and carried her to a more comfortable spot
-because she’s still his baby girl
-because she needed him
-because he’s the daddy.

Isn’t it only fitting that Father’s Day fall a month and a week behind Mother’s Day? That’s about right for poor ol’ Dad. It’s reminiscent of the car choking its way into the hotel. Mom takes the kids to the pool to get them out of the way. Dad shows up over an hour later with battery acid burns on his hands, grease on his clothes, steam still coming out of his ears, and holes where he bit his tongue trying not to say “no-no words” in front of other hotel guests. The kids want to know what took him so long, mom is ready to go eat, and dad just needs a nap, but the car is drivable again and all is right with the world and the family vacation.

One of my most consistent memories of my own father is the sound of his bare feet shuffling down the tiled hall after everyone else was in bed. Before I could hear his feet, I had heard the clicks and flips of locks and switches as he had locked the house up and turned off all the lights, tucking the house in and keeping us all safe the way daddies do, and being the last to take care of himself like daddies do.

Daddies’ jobs are a study in contradictions. Daddies teach the Little Leaguer the ultra-tough perfect power triangle batting stance, yet are ready to wipe the tears when the game doesn’t go our way. Daddies may be called on to salvage Barbie from a deep sea expedition in the toilet, or to sit in on a tea party. Daddies protect the attic, basement, yard, and home from rodents, insects, mean dogs, spiders, and unwelcome salesmen, yet can whip up a mean pan of brownies when company comes or just because it sounds like fun.

Daddies have it tough in their task, but I have learned that they aren’t burdened down with a guilt gene like we moms are. They measure out punishment the way it should be: by being firm, fair, and consistent. Later, there might be a sno-cone just because.

Your house may not have such a warm, fuzzy image of a daddy – for whatever reason. But I have found that Abilene doesn’t have a shortage of men who will love on young people in much the same way. My family has done Little League, youth basketball, public school P.E., soccer, Sunday school, sports camps, and bazillions of other activities. While we have encountered some people we would rather not see again, the majority of the men who will spend their time devoted to such activities have blessed us beyond measure and I’m thankful those men will give love, time, and encouragement to children who need to see a daddy in action.

For this Father’s Day I hope you let Dad know you appreciate him. I also hope you let him rest and put his feet up. You never know when you’ll need him to pick you up off the ground – and he’ll be right there to do it, too.

(for Father's Day, I was also tasked with writing this article about an AMAZING family. You may want to click over and read about the family from Rwanda).


Roxanne said...

And here's to having him around for this one. So. Glad.

dad said...

This is wonderful. Thank you.

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