Sunday, June 21, 2009
The Fathers In Our Lives
Father's Day. A national celebration of the importance of the role of the Dad. A day for BBQ's and yet another necktie as a gift, or perhaps an addition to the after shave collection. Maybe a day of fishing, or a dinner out at a restaurant. I know that statistics show that Mother's Day is the bigger holiday, which perhaps is understandable on some level as Mom's are the true heart of a home. But if that is true, what are Dad's?
Dad's are the muscle of the home. Dad's are the protectors, the "do'ers", the arms and legs and hands of the home. And yes, if you are lucky, your Dad is also another nurturer in the home.
I was fortunate, I had a real honest-to-goodness #1 Dad. All that I am and all that I will ever be is because of my parents, and I honor and respect that even more the older I get and the more I parent myself. I miss my Dad so much sometimes, I wish he were here to meet my sons. His love of aircraft was definitely passed down to Matthew through osmosis or something, or perhaps is God's little way of reminding me that Dad is still with me and does actually know my family, even if only from afar. Of my two parents, I myself have far more of my Dad's personality than my Mom's...which in some ways probably helped my Mom and I avoid much of the "teenage daughter" trials during those difficult years.
It is interesting to look at my sons and see Dominick in each of them, to see in practical application the arguments both for and against "nurture vs. nature". There is no biological connection, not a lick of similar DNA between any of the 4 of them, and yet anyone who meets all of the "LaJoy Boy's", including Dominick, would find it a challenge to point out that they don't all fit together perfectly in some odd way....that the LaJoy testosterone appears to be very, very similar despite the obvious differences in race and backgrounds. They fit together, they each carry traits of Dominick's which in equal measure both thrill me and exasperate me! Hahaha!
Matthew is a researcher like his Dad is, he will go to books to find a solution to a problem, and he can take one look at a diagram and at lightening speed he can put something together that would probably have me still trying to figure out what direction is up for the diagram!!! Joshie has his Daddy's warmth, he gives the most amazing hugs and all of himself to those he loves...his heart is on his sleeve at all times. Just as with Dominick, no girl will ever wonder where she stands with him someday, she will know she is treasured every waking moment...just as I do with Dominick. Kenny, well, of all three he is the one I sometimes wonder if Dominick didn't take a little trip to Kyrgyzstan about 11 years ago! Man, if he isn't a little "mini-me" of Dominick. His outgoing, fearless personality is exactly who I imagine Dominick was at that age. His entrepreneurial mind, his ability to approach anyone even before he could speak their language was Dominick through and through. And they ALL, every last one of them, have their Dad's nutty sense of humor, for which I am most grateful as it keeps our house rocking with laughter day in and day out.
Sons and daughters both need their fathers. It is how they learn how to become a man, it is how they learn how to judge how a man should treat them. My children have the gift of an incredibly involved, engaged, loving father. We may not be able to provide them with the latest and greatest $100 sneakers, the Nintendo Wii's, or the European vacations (we have to exclude adoption trips on that one! hahaha!), but I think that what they have in Dominick is far more precious than any of that. They have a rock solid Dad, one who is at every school function, who runs Scouts, who reads to them and plays with them, whose very life and sole purpose for working is to provide for them and to make time for them. He gives them what they NEED which is far more important than what they might WANT. And surprisingly, when a child has what they NEED, they tend not to WANT those other things. A "Game Boy" can NOT make up for an absent father, ever.
Although Dominick and I both have lost our fathers, we still have one to guide us. It makes all the difference in the world in our adult existence to still feel the care and love of a Father. We can turn to the Bible and hear our Father's words. We can pray and know we are taking to our Spiritual Parent and feel that presence. We are not alone, our biological fathers may have passed, but our God will never leave us and in that presence we are comforted. We still have Someone to turn to when we are confused and need guidance, and we can trust that guidance to be in our best interest just as we could with our earthly Dads.
There are other fathers in our lives as well, amazing men we turn to once in awhile, whose encouragement and care of us is loving and kind and true. Dominick tries to be that kind of man to others in his life as well...young men who work for him who are lost on their path in life, older men who need to feel worthwhile and productive, men who just need another man to talk to and be supportive....its all fathering, isn't it?
Today, as you sit down to your BBQ meal or pat your own Dad on the back, think of what your life would have looked like without his presence. Who would you have become? How much different would you be? What would it have been like to grow up without the solid and steady hand at your back, the clothes ON your back, and the man who "has your back"...and say with meaning..."I love you, Dad.".
During these waning days of summer, new adults are slowly blossoming and, for one, childhood is very gradually beginning its tentative wave...