Good daddies can change the world
Our family celebrated my father’s hundredth birthday recently. The big day was filled with cake, sepia toned photos and stories from days gone by. The guest of honor was uncharacteristically quiet. (Daddy lives in Heaven) but that didn’t stop the family from singing. Fathers deserve to be fussed over.
Charlie Caspersen died in l987, but I can’t help thinking of him on this third Sunday in June when daddies all across the country are getting singled out. Unlike birthdays, this holiday is earned. It’s dedicated to those who get up in the morning and put on the mantle of fatherhood no matter how heavy it grows. The men who leave the biggest mark are the ones who put the time in. With fourteen kids, my father logged a few hours.
Daddies come in different flavors. Ours was a strict disciplinarian. Sometimes his big voice filled our home with tension. I longed for a dad like Mr. Clarac, my best friend’s dad who hugged us hello and teased us about boys at the dinner table. I wished for the kind of dad whose lap I could crawl into when I failed a test or had a tiff with a girlfriend.
Daddy kept his feelings to himself. We knew he loved us, but words of affection were not in his vocabulary. Not until he mellowed. At that point, the baby of our family broke his code. Elizabeth joked with him. She ruffled his hair and sat on his lap. He took to it like a duck to water.
In the meantime, he modeled responsibility and strength. He also showed my four brothers what it took to be the spiritual head of a household. Best of all, he adored our mother and treated her like the reigning queen. You can’t put a value on that.
Yesterday, I went to a baby shower for a couple in their late twenties. These parents are absolutely giddy over the impending birth of their first offspring. Their handiwork is all over the baby’s room. Since Dad loves to feed folks, he cooked every dish on the serving table. Mom is a masseuse, a master of nurturing. Parenting seems a perfect fit.
Watching people unwrap gifts is not my favorite thing, but these two kept things lively. They made their way through a tower of gifts. He whooped like an Aggie as they opened each present. At one point, he threw a Lion King towel over his head and strutted around like Simba. She ate it up. She laughed so hard, tears stained her cheeks.
The house was packed- unusual for a baby shower. As introductions were made, I noticed that many of the guests were relatives. Maybe that’s another measurement of fatherhood- families that stay close in spite of divorce and distance.
Speaking of fatherhood always makes me think of my Uncle Billy. He left his mark on plenty of kids. And I’m not just talking about his thirteen offspring, either. Many young men fell under his influence. My older brother, a city boy, benefitted the most from the open door policy they had at the ranch. Cas spent 7 summers there, learning “the cowboy way” from Uncle Billy. Over the years, he learned how to rope and ride, but he also learned how to wrangle up breakfast and drive younger folks wherever they needed to go.
What about the population of men who are raising their kids right now. My friend Doug sometimes spends the night in a backyard tent with his offspring, mosquitoes and all. If that’s not a labor of love I don’t know what is. From my deck, I hear snippets of wisdom being shared with his three kids. When issuing duties, he is patient but firm. He walks the walk more than he talks the talk. Best of all, he’s approachable. His kids know they can come to him for help.
Our son and his wife own a grain free bread business. The other day, Daniel took his toddler on a delivery. The kid was pumped like a ball player who made the traveling squad. Let us never forget. Good Daddies can change the world. Happy Father’s Day!
Donia Caspersen Crouch was raised in Southeast Texas and lives in Austin. Want more? Donia’s Stories of Hope and Humor can be ordered at firstname.lastname@example.org.