A day to thank good men

Happy Father’s Day to dads, uncles, grandfathers, stepfathers, and foster fathers, and to the men, whether neighbor, teacher or occasional mentor who sacrificially sew into the lives of youngsters they encounter.

To those who deny themselves and choose the welfare of their families

To those who take the time and energy, and perhaps resources to be a difference maker for those who need a hand up

To the men who live so that your footsteps are good for children to stretch to walk in

Thank you.

Though we had a healing time at the end of his life, my father, foiled by his own demons, was unable to bless me most of my life.

However, there were men who made all the difference.

My Uncle Hal Mehan was my first love. He made me feel precious, glad to be a girl. I thought he was going to wait for me to grow up. However, seeing reality, I traded him to Aunt Carol on the eve of their wedding for her wooden high-topped roller skates.

Uncle Charlie welcomed me to his heart when Aunt Betty took me home to Philadelphia the day after my brother’s funeral in Oswego, NY. He incorporated me into his warm Italian family, took me to the bakery, fresh pasta and cheese shops on a daily basis, and bought me my first set of new clothing. On weekends he took me to museums and zoos. For a month I was the daughter he never had, an only child who sucked up all the love.

At Oswego State Teacher’s College Campus School, my fifth and sixth grade teachers, Dr. Canfield and Dr. Strebe lifted me from the double misery of grief after my little brother drowned, along with the pain of being an extreme introvert with a heart untended. They called me to live when life wasn’t even an option, and affirmed me as a person with value. And Dr Strebe ignited my love for written words.

After our move to Houston, in high school — my seventh school — I was blessed by a young man who was a student at Baylor medical School. John started a youth group where he challenged us beyond platitudes and easy answers. Through him I went from a childish faith to a real relationship with my Lord.

I struggled through most of my adult life, but even small touches from strong, loving, God-filled men made a huge difference, at times the crucial difference.

When my Dad lay dying at Bethesda Naval Hospital, John appeared just at the moment when I thought I couldn’t cope. He was a pathologist there! By the time we finished a walk around the greens, I was ready to sit with him and pray for the first time in several years. A new level in my faith journey began that day.

Many times God has sprinkled strong, loving, caring men into my life, filling places left empty by my father’s failures.

Showing me that there is a Father who will never fail me, never hurt me, always love me. Helping me to learn to trust.

So men, if you don’t think you matter, you are wrong.

You don’t have to be Superman to save a life.

You don’t have to be Moses to lead a child out of slavery.

You don’t have to be a shepherd to lead a child to safety.

You don’t even have to be a father to make all the difference in a young life.

Just step up, and be the man.

A real man.

Thank you.

Dear reader, who has been that ‘good father’ influence in your life?

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