More than a hundred

Jeff and the boys at our home at Vandenberg AFB, California, December 1990

Jeff and the boys at our home at Vandenberg AFB, California, December 1990

“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.”George Herbert

Watching someone fight bravely the battles Jeff has fought these past 9 months, it’s easy to get overly sentimental about him.  Yet I think I can say without exaggeration that I have never known a man more devoted to his wife and children than Jeff has been for over 30 years and counting.

When women think of ideal traits to look for in a husband, those who plan to have children would do well to prioritize qualities that make a man a good father.  But this is a more complex task that it seems, as there is no “one size fits all” description of a good father.  If I try to pin down one characteristic that seems to be an absolute requirement for parenthood, devotion is the quality that keeps coming to mind.

Devotion to family comes at a price, of course, especially when extraordinarily challenging situations arise.  Hobbies are forgotten or nonexistent; career decisions and personal preferences take a backseat to the welfare of the children; at times one’s individual personality seems to vanish into the web of demands that shape every day.  Usually, none of these sacrifices are obvious in a devoted father; they are so inseparable from his character that it’s easy to be fooled into thinking he’s sailing along, living the same life he might have lived without children.  But those who look closely will know better.

Herbert touches on the truth about what makes a father’s role so unique.  A devoted father teaches continually, sometimes with words but mostly by example, and the cumulative effect of being ever-present in his children’s lives is a more profound lesson than any educator can impart.  I know, because I was blessed with a father whose example would be a hard act to follow.  I thank God every day for giving me a husband more than equal to the task.

I have mixed emotions about Father’s Day as I do about Mother’s Day, because there are so many for whom this is not a happy occasion.  But I hope that  those who may feel that they don’t have much to celebrate on Father’s Day will find ways to honor the crucial and often unsung role that fathers play.  However imperfect they may be, loving Daddies are almost everywhere we look: in history, in our extended families, in our local school or play group.  If you didn’t have the kind of father you wished for, you can still be one, or see one, and be strengthened by the gifts only a father can give.

This post was originally published seven years ago today, which was Father’s Day in that year. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

8 Comments

  1. Good morning, Julia! Thank you so much for this post!
    I’m sure that these Father’s Days are harder now, with both your Daddy and Jeff gone. My Daddy is in full nursing care, cut off from even my Mom. It is painful to see such indignities inflicted upon a man who was such a marvelous father to two girls. Truly, we are who we are because of their sacrifice.
    Love to you!

    • Susan, thank you for realizing how hard this time is for me. Because Father’s Day falls so close to our anniversary, this time of June is difficult but I do have the garden and the flowers to cheer me, which can’t be said of the birthday that Jeff and I shared. Also, thank you for the lovely photo you sent me of you with your Daddy. From what little I can see in the photo I can see a resemblance! We tend to hear so many things about bad fathers (and bad men in general) these days, that I am comforted to know how many unsung heroes are out there, people whose legacy is appreciated and whom we still cherish. I so wish there was something you (or anyone) could do to make this forced separation during your father’s last days somehow easier. It’s painful to think of him cut off from his family when you all most need each other’s presence. I will add him and your Mom to my prayers. Thank you for honoring your father and mother. May the ancient prophecy be fulfilled in your own life “…that your days may be long.”

      • Thank you so much, Julia.
        We do have a Zoom meeting today, arranged by the care center where Dad’s staying. For people like my dad, who cannot manage the technology on their own, the staff has implemented a schedule for setting the residents up with half- hour time slots on Zoom using a staff person’s computer.

        • That’s a wonderful thing for them to do! I hope other care facilities are doing something similar.

  2. Susan

    This is a precious picture. And a beautiful tribute to Jeff.

    • Thank you, Susan. What happy years those California central coast years were for us! (I just spent my personal phone call record time yesterday in a conversation with a dear friend we knew there 😀 ).

  3. Lydia

    Hi, Julia, I just want to thank you for your beautiful post. Your beautiful words are an inspiration. May the Lord bless you and comfort you every day.

    • Thank you, Lydia. Your words are an encouragement to me. I’m so glad you are here!

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