An orchard to celebrate

This day is always a mix of heart ache and celebration. My dad passed away almost 17 years ago (that is an entirely different post), so this day is always initially a little difficult. Father’s day, June 1999, I didn’t even call my dad. I was 22 and mad at him for something, so instead of having a conversation with him I chose spitefulness and my dad died three months later. It literally took years to forgive myself and remember that I am much more than the actions of one day. I loved my dad unconditionally and I had to remember that he loved me unconditionally, as well.  Now every year on Father’s day, in a quiet little conversation, I tell my dad how much I love him. I forgive him. I understand him, but most of all I miss him. I wish he could be here, but I know he would be so proud of me and the adult that I have become.

Once I get through that conversation, I can easily celebrate the great dad’s in my life and my family tree is more like an orchard, so I have plenty of dad’s to celebrate.

My husband – my dad loved him – and I can see why. As a 20-year-old, I just thought it was great that my dad liked my boyfriend. When I found out that my, then boyfriend, asked my parents for their blessing before he proposed to me I thought that was so sweet. As a parent, I now see the importance of that little gesture of respect. If you are old enough to remember the show Darma and Greg, that show could have been based our relationship. I was a spur-of-the-moment, out to rescue all that are lost, crazy idea thinker living in the moment and my husband (then boyfriend) was well-rounded, a big picture thinker and a responsible planner. He held the door open, picked up the check, shook hands and called my dad “sir” when he first met him. Now, as a mother, I can see why my dad loved my husband so much.

When I look at my husband, I see the type of man I want for our daughter and the man I want our boys to become. I tease him that he is more in touch with his emotions than I am, but it’s somewhat true. Everything he does, he does for us and out of  love. When I first met him, I was immediately attracted to him – beyond his good looks – it was his confidence and character that I loved. When I say confidence, he wasn’t egotistical, but self-assured. Before we even dated, I knew I would marry him. One of my co-workers asked me if I “liked” him and I told her, “No. I love him.” We weren’t even dating or talking about dating and I knew I loved him. When we did date, I told him very quickly that I truly loved him and thought for sure I probably just scared him off. Not at all – that affection was returned! He always says the day I walked into his restaurant, he knew he had to hire me only to fire me, because he couldn’t date his employee. The restaurant business was an adventure and it closed rather quickly (fast enough that he didn’t have to fire me), but I don’t believe in coincidences. My husband, who had never even worked in a restaurant agreed to manage it and I decided to apply for a job at a restaurant I hadn’t even heard of before. God puts you where you need to be when you need to be there. My husband truly is a blessing. He is the most caring, compassionate and giving person you will ever meet.

Onto the orchard…

My step-dad…My parents got divorced when I was very young and I only have a few memories of them together, but they remained friends and never put me in the middle of any of their disagreements (again a topic worthy of an entirely different post). My mom married my step-dad my freshman year in college and my dad died my senior year. I could have directed my anger and frustration at my step-dad, but he made that impossible. My step-dad, the man that I now called dad and my kids love and adore as their Pop-pop, literally took over for my dad. He never tried to replace him or out-do him, but simply stepped into the role of parenting a college student without questioning. He gave his heart and love without expectation. It was easy to accept him in my life, because he only offered love. We are truly so blessed to have him in our lives. Even though my dad died so young, my kids have never been without a grandpa. He is the post card Pop-pop. When he pulls in the driveway, my kids don’t wait inside, but rather run to meet him at his car. When he walks in the room, the noise level immediately goes up with a screaming shriek…Pop-Pop!!!

My father-in-law, another dad worth celebrating today. He reminds me so much of my own grandfather. A wise, caring, loving man who always sees the good in others. When I first met my husband’s family, I immediately felt welcomed and loved. When my father-in-law held our oldest for the first time, I knew why my husband took so naturally to being a first time parent. When I was sick and in the Cleveland Clinic with an NG (nasogastric) tube making life even more miserable, my father-in-law was there every evening. He would just sit beside me. When I could, we would talk. When I couldn’t talk, he would hold my hand. When I was stronger, we would walk the halls. I have never felt like a “daughter-in-law” around him, but simply a daughter. Our youngest absolutely adores my father-in-law. My father-in-law was a physical education teacher for 36 years, so that always makes him cool, but more than that he has tools and knows how to fix things. Our youngest loves to build…anything. He asked for tools for Christmas – “Not kid tools. Real tools.” When our youngest is helping my father-in-law with any type of project, it is easy to see he wants to be just like him when he grows up. I couldn’t wish for a better role model.

When my dad died, my step-mom waited a long time for the right guy, but when we met him…we all knew he was the one. This is always an odd branch to explain…my step-mom’s husband?? One of the many reasons that I have a family orchard and not just a tree. He truly deserves some accolades. I doubt there are very many men that can step into this role and make it seem so natural. He treats my step-mom with the resect she deserves and loves my kids as if they were his own grandkids. It’s not what he says or gives that makes him such a great dad on this dad’s day, but rather what he offers…love and only love.

Lastly on this Dad’s day…another dad worth celebrating is my brother. We live miles and miles a part and don’t talk as often as we should. Because I am the oldest, even when my brother was in high school, it was hard for me to see him as a teenager. When he joined the Coast Guard, he was still my little brother. The day he graduated from basic training I finally saw the man he had grown into. Now that he has two kids of his own, it’s adorable to see him in this role. The boy that always made everyone laugh is now a dad. He is another person that has a gift to make all feel welcome. If he meets you for a minute, you immediately feel like a friend. He will give you the shirt off his back and never ask you for anything in return. I love the man that my brother has grown into and I fear for the future boy that comes knocking on his door.

As we prepare for this day, my heart goes out to those who have lost their fathers and I give thanks for the many blessings that God has placed in my life. Father’s day, for me, is a bitter sweet celebration.

Philippians 4:8…Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things…19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

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