Fatherly – showing the affection or concern of a father
My kids are loved. In addition to Husband and myself, they are surrounded by friends and family who adore them. I am so grateful. I know their lives will be richer because of these influences. I know that Husband and I might suddenly be struck with a bad case of “un-cool” in a decade or so. It is a relief to know that if/when that happens, our children will have their choice of quality, loving adults to support them and offer guidance in a voice that will be easier to hear simply because the voice is not coming out of a parent’s mouth.
I was similarly blessed growing up. Despite limited visitations with my father and extended family, my supply of love was abundant. In fact, I think that because some folks perceived me as “fatherless,” I actually received an extra dose of fatherly affection.
There was my neighbor’s dad – whom I shall lovingly refer to as Clark Griswold. I met him when I was five and lived across the street from him until I graduated high school. He drove me to baseball practice when my mom wasn’t home from work yet. He talked my mom into letting me skip a day of school to visit a submarine (I think he may have misinterpreted his daughter’s and my enthusiasm as an interest in naval history rather than more accurately identifying our interest in sailors). He allowed me to tag along on his family’s road trips. He helped me change a headlight in my car. And, he was always available to open pickle jars when my mom and I couldn’t do it. In fact, he had such a reputation for being our go-to guy that when Clark Griswold finally moved out of the neighborhood, my mother welcomed the husband of the new couple by saying, “You have big shoes to fill. Clark has been a husband to us all.” You can imagine the look on the new neighbor wife’s face – I don’t think she understood that “husband to us all” roughly translated to “the great pickle jar opener.”
But, Clark was only one of many fatherly influences in my life. There was the uncle who encouraged my writing. The volleyball coach who urged me to embrace athletics but prioritize academics. The man at church who explained that skirts should be long enough to allow you to pick up a quarter without embarrassing yourself or others. The youth pastor whose opinion on early marriage gave me the “reason” I needed to walk away from a relationship. There was the boss who taught me to laugh at myself.
In some ways, those caring men had a stronger influence than my own father could have. If my dad had commented on the length of my skirt, I would have rolled my eyes and said, “Da-ad!” My dad telling me that I was smart or talented didn’t carry as much weight. After all, I’m his offspring – he has to like me. But those other voices, those men who didn’t have to care, shaped who I am in ways they may never know. They have my gratitude and my love.
I am so thankful that my children have similar voices and influences in their lives.