Christian Living

Family Matters 02/17/11

A Dad Who Got It Right

This past week, I flew to Michigan to throw my father a 90th birthday party. At first, he told me not to bother, that turning 90 was no big deal and that he didn’t need a party. But as the party began and he was honored by a multitude of friends, the look on his face was priceless. He loved every minute of it. And I was so glad I did it.

As we drove back to his house with the balloon bouquet blocking our view and a bag of cards and sentiments in the back seat of the car, we joked. This was better than a funeral. He got to hear how people felt about him while he was still alive!

My dad is an amazing man, not because of material wealth (he has little) or education (he dropped out of high school to work and take care of his family), but because of his character and kind heart. He served his country in WWII, worked hard all his life to put his three children through college, and was married to my mom for 66 years, until she died. He is one of the good guys. Grateful for what this country offers (his family came from Germany with nothing when he was 2), he understands the importance of service and has been a quiet steady force in our family through the years.

Even with his faults, he’s the best. Being with him is easy and he knows everyone in the small town in which he lives. As I prepared for bed each night, I thought about all the clients I’ve had who could not do what I was doing—stay alone with their fathers as adult children because of incest, addiction, abuse, abandonment, rejection. Many of them had dads who weren’t there or hurt them. I thanked God for men like my dad who got it right.

Dad was always there, rehearsing my lines for the school play, falling asleep during my band and piano recitals, bringing me groceries as a poor college student, and taking care of my kids when I had to travel. He is a dependable man of his word who loves the Lord, embraces life, and still has a full head of hair that needs to be thinned.

We need more dads like mine. Fathers who are involved in the lives of their children, who know when to be tough and when to back off, who spend time playing games at night instead of watching TV. We need dads who discipline and make it clear that they are to be respected, who treat their wives with care and love, dads who push their kids to be their best, but love them unconditionally.

Because I never wanted to disappoint my dad, I was motivated to make good choices. My relationship with him was and still is important. I want his respect because he has mine. Happy belated birthday Dad. The next party is when you turn 100! 

Promo: Enter Dr. Linda Mintle’s contest to win a free copy of her new book. In 50 words or less, tell us “why you love your mother but…” and you could be 1 of 10 winners of her newest title, I Love My Mother But…. Send your entry to drlindahelps@gmail.com. Hurry! The contest ends March 15, 2011.