Jun. 9, 2015

Father's Day!

“Becoming a Father is easy enough...

But being one can be rough!”

Wilhelm Busch 1832-1908

So who exactly is Wilhelm Busch and what did he know about it! He was a humorist, poet, illustrator and painter, satirizing Catholicism, strict religious morality and bigotry. He even got himself banned in a few places. He was right, though, about that father thing being rough.

As Father’s Day is coming right up in a week or so...and if you still have a father...by all means celebrate him...my thoughts have been full of the various fathers I have known and still know. My own personal Dad, through no fault of his own, was absent for most of my life. I only saw him two or three times during my childhood, the last time being when I was fifteen and in my “Rebel Without a Cause and/or Good Sense” stage. He took my mother and me out to dinner as he was leaving the United States for an extended period, to work in Germany as an engineer for Lockheed. I was sullen, silent and smoked, for pity’s sake!!

Thanks to God’s amazing plans in our lives, I was reunited with my Dad in my 40's when I began wondering where he was and what he was really like. But how do you find that needle in a haystack person when you know nothing about them. Then God stepped in. I was sitting out on my front porch one morning, reading Dear Abby, drinking a cup of tepid coffee, waiting to drive some kid to school when, right there in Dear Abby was just what I needed! Abby told me, and the immediate world, that the Salvation Army had a service in 80 countries around the world  working to put lost relatives in touch with each other. A phone call, a form, a check for five bucks and my search was underway. A search, by the way, which was already in trouble due to lack of information: His Social Security number? Last known address? Other relatives? Correct spelling of names? Place of birth? I knew none of it.

 But God had His hand on the situation. As I sat on my front porch reading Dear Abby, my Dad was sitting in his kitchen in Glendale!…reading Dear Abby. A phone call, a form, a check for five bucks and now both of us were in the search business. I sent it in and forgot about it. Months went by and one evening the phone rang. A Major Hood of the Salvation Army was on the other end, “I think I’ve found your father, ” she said. And she had! A delightful relationship began which continued through many years. He’s gone now, but his memory lives on for me in his artwork, which is all over my house - he was quite a famous artist. He’s in the book I wrote from the letters he sent me about his childhood, his Dad and the early wild days of California and Mexico (A Treasure Map, A Drunken Owl, and 47 Rattlers In A Bag! – Available in the Books section right here!).

I am fortunate to have married an exceptional man who is a fantastic father. As I grew up without one, I had no clue how this worked, but John showed me that a father is patient, he is kind, he isn’t proud, doesn’t dishonor the children or his wife, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs. A good father rejoices with the truth. Always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. That means explaining the same algebra problem for the nineteenth time without throwing the book and the child on the floor. It means going to get a daughter and bring her home from a bad situation. It means staying awake at night when someone isn’t home who should be, and gently grounding them for a year. It means being so proud of every achievement, no matter how minor. You know, this sounds a lot like that Corinthians 13 thing, doesn’t it.

Our son is an excellent father, dealing simultaneously with teenagers, a two-year old and a little guy who’s just two months old. He’s tired, but he’s available to change somebody’s pants, read them a story or just hold them to give Michon a break.

Son-in-law, Dave, is an amazing father. He and Patti have raised four exceptional young people: David, who lives in Germany and is a wonderful father to his little girl, Erin; Nicole who works at Sea World rescuing injured sea lions; Blake who will enter USC in the Fall and will probably be an Einstein-type genius when he emerges; Luke, who is talented, charming, bright, and will also soon be at USC and on Broadway one day.

Son-in-law, Chris, is the amazing father of two little girls, adopted foster children, born of drug addicted mothers. These are not easy little people, but Chris and Crissy will keep on keeping on, being the best parents possible, rejoicing in their accomplishments, however small.

Grandson, Michael, great Dad to Catherine Sophia, who was wearing the “Advice From The Night Sky” t-shirt in last week’s entry, and to William, an extremely bright ten and a half year old.

Take a look at the guys around you who are fathers, and tell them they are God’s appointed and anointed men and you appreciate them. I got to tell my Dad I loved him many times before he died, we missed that father daughter thing, but I’ve seen the best at work in my family. I hope you have, too.