*This post was originally posted in June of 2011.
Father’s Day is *June 19th and each year when I become aware that this day is approaching, I reflect and remember things about the fathers that I have had a close relationship with in my life. I have had the good fortune to love and be loved by, admire and respect a “few good men” and I am thankful for that.
My father, the one that gave me life, by all accounts passed down over the years, was a loving husband, father and friend. I can only rely on the recollections and memories of others because I have none of my own. My father passed away suddenly six months before I was born leaving a pregnant wife and three children all under the age of five.
Fortunately for my brothers and sister and I, my mom took and saved some good pictures of him. Over the years I have spent hours staring at them hopeful that I would learn something new and revealing about him that someone might have forgotten to pass on. I so wished that they would have had video.
I do know that my father had a pretty rough row to hoe when he was young. He along with his six siblings were placed in a Catholic orphanage at a young age due to their mother’s failing health. When they entered 8th grade they were placed in homes separated a great distance away from their other siblings. Unfortunately, my father was placed with a family on a farm that treated him very poorly and as if he was hired help…without the pay. When he reached the age of 18, he packed up the few belongings that he had and walked out the front door and never looked back.
Because he had a great work ethic and was just a real likeable person, he was offered a job in the local cheese factory and started to secure his financial future so he could marry my mother. After they married he was able to find an even better job and my mother and father were on their way to having four children and what they had hoped, would be a happy future. But sadly that was not to be because my father died suddenly from a massive heart attack (genetic condition) at the age of 29.
Enter the man I call Dad. He was my father’s best friend, co-worker and the unfortunate person that found my father when he collapsed and died at work in 1955. He took the burden upon his shoulders for the next several years of making sure a young, widowed 27 year old woman and her four children were provided for in the way that his best friend would have wanted. A funny thing happened along the way and he just happened to fall in love with this woman and her four kids. At the age of 35, my Dad married for the first time and acquired an automatic family of six! What was he thinking?!!
Well I am glad he wasn’t thinking because there are just no words to express how I feel about my Dad. He is just a wonderful man. He was always a good provider for our family and at times worked other jobs to supplement his main income. Even though he worked long days in the farming industry, he would find the time to take us fishing, hunting, swimming or on picnics and other family outings and attend our school activities. In the winter he would work hours constructing an ice skating pond in our own yard, taking us tobogganing at the local state park or teaching us how to make Christmas decorations in his workshop.
When I was 7, my younger brother was born, and our family was complete. Although he was my Dad’s only biological child, he was never treated any different. I will never forget the time shortly after my brother was born, when the town “rich kid and bully” taunted my sister and I and told us that my younger brother was not really our brother (he was also the kid that told us there was no Santa Claus!). He was our “half” brother. In our mind that was a bad word and being a 7 year old I couldn’t quite figure out which “half” was ours. Technically he was right…but tell that to two young sisters who have a brand spanking new baby brother in the house and you will get two hysterical sisters that ran home crying to their mother. My Dad does not get mad and he does not have a temper but he was angry after my mother talked to him that night. Red in the face, angry. After supper, he made a visit to the town bully’s home and had a chat with his parents. I don’t know what was said but I do know we were never taunted again.
That also reminds me of the time when Dad was hospitalized several years ago and my brother who was in his late 50s was visiting him. The doctor asked my parents how long they had been married and when they said 50 years, he looked at my brother with a puzzled look on his face. It was obvious that my brother was older than 49 or 50. My brother started to explain and the doctor said, “Oh this is your step….”. My Dad silenced him mid sentence and said, “We don’t use those words in our house. All of my children are my children and I am their father.” My mom later told the story with a smile on her face and said my Dad used a bit of a harsh tone with the doctor, which was out of character for my Dad.
My Dad is just a wonderful person….husband, father, grandfather and friend. Did I already mention that? I can’t say it enough. It is evident by the number of family, friends and people in his community that love and respect him. He has lent a hand and assisted many of these people throughout his life and now in his old age they are happy to have the opportunity to return the favor to someone that they care so much about.
I know this post is long but I would not be able to complete my gratitude to “a few good men” without mentioning my husband and the father of my children. My husband had a rough childhood growing up. They were dirt poor and his father had many demons, one of them being his good friend Jack Daniels. In spite of this, he has been a wonderful husband and role model for our sons and a great provider for our family. His family always comes first. Always. He is proof positive that one can overcome emotional baggage and economic disadvantage from childhood and rise above it. He is also the love of my life.
So in this day and age when we are constantly bombarded with depressing stories about deadbeat dads and men who lack character, I feel very fortunate and blessed for the “few good men” that have loved me unconditionally and guided, provided for and nourished me as well as my children along our way.
How about you? Do you have a few things you would like to share about a special father in your life?
Pam Buttikofer is a co-founder of Imperfect Women. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband of 38 years and enjoys spending time with her husband, sons and her lovable pups.