A Salute to Fathers
Good morning and Happy Father’s Day weekend to all of the fathers out there. No matter your age or status – new father, old father, grandfather, father-in-law, stepfather or father figure who fills the role without any formal title – you are making a profound difference.
I think about my own father during this time. He has always been a man of few words. He would describe himself as a farmer – although the truth is he has worked a lot of jobs to support his farming habit. I am fortunate that he is still alive and a part of the activities of my family.
When I was young, he wasn’t one of the more modern fathers who participated much in hands-on child rearing. He did, however, value education and let me know he was ready to “sell the cows” if ever needed to get me through my education and training. During my teen years, he considered his main responsibilities were to teach me how to change a tire and shoot straight. I have changed many tires on cars, trucks and other farm vehicles, and spent a fair amount of time shooting at cans propped on top of a fence post on the farm. (Thankfully, my day job doesn’t require me to bring either of those skills to bear very often.) He tells it like it is and rarely sees any gray around the line between right and wrong.
I think about my father-in-law, too. He passed away last year. He was a teacher, a preacher and a cultivator of human beings. In the latter years of his life and in the time since he has died, countless people have told me of instances where he intervened in their lives, changing them for the better. Every day he lived and demonstrated the lesson of loving your fellow man for no other reason than that they were fellow human beings. Such a simple thought – but so hard to live by – yet he did.
My family was blessed in that both of these fathers were willing and able to be an important part of their grandchildren’s lives. While young, children don’t realize that time with a grandparent is truly a gift, of course. That appreciation comes with age.
My husband is a saint for putting up with me. It may surprise you to hear this (ha!) but I am not easy to live with. I am impatient. I am always pushing. I want things a certain way. I have very strong ideas about – well – everything. He is kind. He is patient. He puts up with my faults and balances my overbearing nature. And he is a wonderful father to our children. I am thankful for the influence he has had on the lives of our children. They are better people for it.
I can’t imagine my life without any of these men. They all have shaped who I am today in different ways. I know each of you have your own stories and thoughts about the fathers and father figures in your lives, even in the instance where a single mom was both the mother and the father.
I am, of course, a huge fan of Mother’s Day and generally believe, as the song goes, that “most mamas ought to qualify for sainthood.” But I am glad to see fathers get a moment in the sun as well for the tremendous impact they have on our lives and our families.
Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, spouses, significant others, children, grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends and neighbors – people we love all over the state – deserve the best education, innovation and health care we can give them. And I know we will, on our way to A Healthier Mississippi.