Thoughts On My Father

We just celebrated Father’s Day this weekend. In honor of all fathers, I want to take a moment to reflect on my dad. My father has always been the strongest man in my life.

Hand in hand
Hand In Hand, Creative Commons Photo by Ushtey

At 6 feet, 2 inches, he carried himself with the posture of a soldier. During his military days, his 180-190 lbs of lean muscle, strong jaw line and jet-black, curly hair made him the tall, dark, and handsome man my mother fell in love with.

He could show the fieriest of tempers when my siblings or I were in trouble or give the quietest and gentlest comforts when we were sick or hurt. He is a creative mixture of John Wayne’s manliness, Jimmy Steward’s wit, and Andy Williams’s crooning. Unfortunately, I look nothing like him but did inherit his love for singing.

Now at 73, he is recovering from a severe stroke. He struggles to button shirts and keep his left leg in synch with his right. He needs guidance to navigate his way around hallways. And he tires easily. But when I look at his white hair, the glasses resting on the end of his nose, the left arm that is weaker than the right, I still see my hero.

When the physical therapist patiently practices heel and toe exercises with him, I want to tell him, “Did you know my dad used to do push-ups on his finger tips, practice Judo, and stand on his head just to relax?”

When the speech therapist coaches him, I want to say, “Did you know my dad has always been shy to speak in public, but he led singing in our church for years and once sang in Nashville on the Ralph Emery show?”

When the occupational therapist shows him how to draw the fingers of his left hand into a single point so he can grasp a button, I want to say, “Did you know my dad drove tractors till he was as brown as soil, manned boats that retrieved spent torpedoes from the ocean, and taught my siblings and me how to dive for mussels?”

Those are only my thoughts to savor. His therapists are patient and see a man who desperately needs to recover and regain some of his former independence. I am thankful for his recovery and their incredible expertise. But they still don’t see what I see.

I see a man who has been devoted to my mother for fifty years. A man who taught his six children and fifteen grandchildren the value of hard work, faithfulness and contentment. A man, who although today has difficulty shaving his left cheek, is still the strongest man I will ever know.

I see a man I am proud to call my dad.

Questions: Do you have a hero in your life you need to celebrate? Maybe it is a parent, a teacher, a mentor, or a friend. Find a way to share their stories or memories. Feel free to share your thoughts here for the rest of us to enjoy. Happy Father’s day to all you dads out there!

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker