Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dads

I talked to several different parents today.  My aunt and uncle stopped by.  They were up visiting my uncle's brother, thought they'd take a chance that we'd be home.   I always love seeing them.  Of course. They've been parents to four of their own children, but have been beloved Auntie and Uncle Don to a host of nieces and nephews, and grands as well.  We've all been blessed by how they've lived among us.  And today, especially, I thinking of my uncle, who was always the ring leader when he was around in the summer.  Uncle Don has played and fished and hiked and built things among us.  Teased and laughed and scared us around campfires, cooked salmon so often we practically have gills ourselves, shot off more fireworks than you can imagine, known the tide tables then loaded up Carry-alls or vans or both with shovels and towels and a pile of kids (and grown-up kids) to wade, swim, dig for clams, bring us all home with sand in every pore, then cook up those clams so they melted in our mouths.  So, happy Father's Day to you, Uncle Don.

And I had the chance to talk to the young friend of my daughter who recently gave up her baby for adoption.  She's a strong young woman but these are hard days.  As you can imagine.  It isn't for lack of love of this baby that she gave him up, that's for sure.  In fact, the love in her voice as she speaks of him. "Did SK show you the picture of him on the quilt you made?" she asked me. "Isn't he beautiful?"  She believes--completely--that the home he's in, the mom and dad he has, the life he'll live are God's plan for him.  But every day now she sees women just her age with babies who are terrible mothers, and she thinks, 'I could be a good mom.'  And it gets to her.  It's a sacrifice that costs.  You think of Abrahamic moments in life?  When God calls you to lay your son down...walk away as if he's dead.  That's what birth parents have to do, you know.  Not just moms but dads, too.  Today, I'm thinking of the young man  who took a strong stand against parental pressure to also relinquish this child to the life he believed God intended for the baby.  As hard as it is for her, it must be as hard for him.  And so I honor him this day.  This dad without his son, this dad who made the brave, godly choice to love his son better than himself.

And I honor the man who now has a son he dreamed of, prayed for, imagined and hoped for.  A son.  A farmer dad who wanted a son to ride on his tractor with him, to work the land with him.  And now there's a baby in a crib right down the hall.  A baby with his own last name.

My BB called.  BB is a step-dad.  Now there's a hard thing.  Not a father, but a step-dad.  Married to the mother of two boys.  He loves those boys. He'd do anything for them, worries about them, worries about his relationship with them, worries about how to be better at it, how to live with them.  You know all those things a step-parent worries about.  He's taken them camping, goes running with the older one, does scouting with the younger, goes on family vacations with them (obviously).  And yet...isn't their dad.  And I know BB has always wanted to be a dad.  Always.  So this Father's Day, when I'm honoring all kinds of fathers, I honor BB as well.  Because families are made up of so many people.   Steps, included.  Step-DAD. Right?  And I believe you're becoming a better one all the time, because you're praying and growing and stretching with the Holy Spirit toward that goal.

And then there's Grampie.  Tonight we had Grampie and Thyrza over for dinner.  Afterward, Beve had a conversation with them about some financial stuff (I scurried to the other end of the house).  Neither could quite grasp the situation, and both reacted according to personality.  And Beve--thankfully!!--also reacted according to character; that is, he remained unruffled and calmly re-explained the situation.  These days, Beve is the dad.  Even to his parent.  He's having to teach (and re-teach, though it doesn't stick!) his father all sorts of things he first learned from Grampie.

The other day, Beve and I were out at dinner with a group of young girls in the GRADS program in this school district.  This is the teen-mom program for which Beve is the counselor.  The girls were asking what kind of dad 'Mr. Wiley' is.  "He's a great dad," I told them.  "Did he change diapers?  Do laundry?  Cook, clean, play with the kids, put them to bed?  Yes, yes, and absolutely yes.
"But I had a great model," Beve said.  "My dad was a great dad.  When we were kids, we used to come crying into the house to our mom because all the neighbor kids were playing with our dad and we couldn't get near him."  Beve tells story after story about just liking to be out in the garage dinking around with his dad while his dad worked on stuff, or sitting in the room while his dad graded papers.  His dad used to stay up to fix food for the boys when they'd get home from their long basketball road trips.  Yep, he was a great dad.

So to all these men, all these kinds of dads--birth, adoptive, step, uncles-who-were-like-dads, dads-who-become-like-kids, granddads, and all those I haven't thought of!--Happy Father's Day.  May God shine His light on you as you have shone His light on everyone around you.

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