Today is Father’s Day. My husband lumps it into the category of made-up holidays. I, on the other hand, quip that every day is Father’s Day. By that I mean that we have a traditional household. I stay at home with the children–sometimes to my chagrin–and do the majority of cooking, cleaning, and child rearing while Ryan literally is on the road or in the air six months out of the year. It’s pretty much the norm that I cook him dinner if he’s home.
That does not mean that I can’t appreciate Father’s Day. I am blessed to have a life full of good men who, while not perfect, have been/are good fathers, good husbands, and good providers. I am not naive; I know that this is the exception, not the rule.
Before we had children, Ryan thought it would be nice to have just two. I suggested four. Instead we ended up with six, though three have gone ahead of us to heaven. Ryan had no idea what he was vowing when he promised to have and to hold me for better or worse. He demonstrates his love for his girls–all four of us–by going to work and coming home faithfully, but I know he longed to be a father to his two boys.
Did I mention that I have been able to stay at home for the past 15 years? That’s solely because of Ryan. My husband has selflessly supported our family since G arrived. When I thought I’d try my hand at homeschooling G, he signed on for that, too. He just didn’t realize that my two-year experiment would morph into an 11-year lifestyle. For the past eight years, he has held two jobs that keep him far busier than he ever wanted. I love him for that.
My own father lives just 20 minutes away. He’s part of the reason that we moved back to Virginia three years ago. He’s always been an important part of my life, and for the past three years, we’ve lived in neighboring zip codes. In recent years, our relationship has changed. He’s been my running and painting partner, assistant coach, and sounding board. He rarely offers advice without being asked, and he always offers me unconditional love. He is quick to give me a hug, and it’s obvious that I inherited my leaky eyes from him.
Then there is my father-in-law. Mike lives many miles away on the opposite coast, but he’s equally important. His signature phrase has always been, “I love you madly,” and it’s impossible not to love him madly in return. He fiercely loves Donna, my mother-in-love. He raised Pat, Dan, Michelle, Julie, Ryan, and Chad–and survived their childhoods and adolescence to pass on his love to eight granddaughters and one grandson.
And finally there is Bill. Our girls knew him as Uncle Bill, and he was family in the truest sense. He was my father’s best friend, and I can’t remember not knowing him. When I was engaged to Ryan, he took me out to lunch one day and explained that married couples only fight about three things: family, money, and sex. Twenty years later, Bill is no longer with us on each, but he’s still correct about all three. That was Bill: he spoke his mind freely. When we were stationed in Corpus Christi, we lived just a mile away from Uncle Bill and Aunt Sharon, who became the girls’ substitute grandparents for the three years of our tour. One of my favorite memories is when Bill volunteered to babysit all three little girls one evening. When I arrived home, H was asleep on the floor in between the couch and coffee table. Bill’s calm response? “She kept crying when I held her, and she fell asleep down there. I wasn’t going to move her.”
Happy Father’s Day to my three favorite fathers. Ryan, Daddy, and Mike, I didn’t support the greeting card industry or Amazon today–and I’m fairly confident that you’re not offended. Instead I just wanted to put into writing a small token of how I feel about each of you. I love you. Thank you for showing me and our daughters how real men love and lead their families. Thank you for demonstrating the love that the Father has for each of us in tangible, concrete ways every day.