We all know that fatherhood has its pleasures and its pains. Witnessing offspring grow into healthy, intelligent and productive citizens makes a father feel as tall as a mountain and proud beyond words. What is the greatest gift a father can give his children? Earlier this year, on Jan. 23, during a Virtual Men’s Marriage Summit, guest speaker, Ken Harrison, quoting the founder of Promise Keepers said, “The greatest thing a man can do for his kids is to love his wife.” A husband’s love must be unconditional, faithful and exclusive. Harrison also emphasized that “exclusivity” meant no porn.
Actions, as well as inactions, speak much louder than words. Are fathers and mothers equal? Most men would unhesitatingly answer yes. Sadly, their actions don’t always agree with this proclamation. For example, between 1960 and 2000, the number of two-income families rose from 25 percent to 60 percent. The addition of the second earner, in most cases the wife, has meant many middle-class couples today rely, “for better or worse,” on two salaries. Although the wage-earning responsibilities are now shared, the household chores are not yet evenly divided. Wives still do most of the shopping, cleaning and child care. Washing the automobiles and cutting the lawn continue to appear on a husband’s to-do list. However, quick trips to the carwash and paying the neighbor’s kid to mow the grass are easy fixes that ensure a rapid return to the man cave to watch the game.
The month of June includes the celebration of Father’s Day. What follows is an authentic recounting of two families who never experienced their dream vacation at Disney World due to the roles their fathers played in each of the dramas.
Never been there, yet!
One week before their first visit to Orlando, two Seattle children who envied their Daytona Beach cousins asked what Disney World was like. The surprising reply was, “We haven’t made it there yet.” The Floridian father continually promised his children what he could not deliver. Rather than being bitterly disappointed and resentful as many adults might be, children continue to hope that their father’s overtures will come true. We can sense this in their addition of the word, “yet.”
Daddy, I’m in trouble!
This is a true narration about a father who found an alternate way to keep his promise even when fate placed an insurmountable obstacle in his path. Driving the van with his wife and four children from New York to the Sunshine State, Mr. Yules glanced often in his rearview mirror to keep a keen eye on his youngest daughter, Samantha. Disabled from birth and in need of a wheelchair for locomotion, the 10-year-old sat quietly in the back seat. She was delighted because the Disney literature boasted accessible accommodations to all their attractions.
Just after crossing the state line into Virginia, Samantha began to feel ill. She fought hard against her nausea and the thought of ruining the family’s outing. Like most people who suffer from a chronic handicap, Samantha knew when she needed to get to a hospital and reluctantly asked her father to detour to the nearest emergency room. Apologizing profusely to her siblings for interrupting their trip, she prayed that somehow their holiday could be salvaged. True to form, her father came to the rescue.
While Samantha’s two-day delay in the medical facility made the long drive to Florida impossible, her dad was able to exchange their original sojourn with an exciting, kid-friendly visit to Colonial Williamsburg. At first blush it may appear that returning to 18th-century history is no substitute for having breakfast at Cinderella’s castle. But after dressing up in period costumes, touring plantations and ghostly taverns, riding in horse-drawn carriages, playing Colonial games, cheering from the sidelines of battle reenactments and holding conversations with living interpreters instead of listening to pre-recorded mechanical robots, a good time was had by all.
Children are resilient. A family vacation can be a dazzling experience regardless of the destination. By the graces God bestows with their paternal calling, fathers are able to refrain from making promises they cannot keep and create alternative plans when their promises go awry.
Holy Homework: Sometime during this month, let’s surprise dad with a personal note, text or e-mail in which we remind him how much we love him and why. If father is deceased, let’s offer a special prayer in remembrance of his life and in thanksgiving for the life he gave us.
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