Today is the birthday of a real hero. He is my father William Peter Stephenson. He was born on June 7, 1925 and left this Earth on October 7, 2004. He was a modest man who didn’t ever think that he had accomplished very much with his life. Somehow, he always felt diminished by his lack of education because he was only able to go to school until grade 8. Because of the Great Depression most farmers were too dirt poor to board their children in town when necessary, so that they could attend high school.
It bothered all eight of us kids very much that he couldn’t appreciate in his own mind what a difference everything he had done, in and through his life, had made to those around him. Despite his own feelings of inadequacy, he was in fact quite well educated. He enjoyed reading the entire newspaper front to back daily whenever possible, The National Geographic and Time Magazine cover to cover, and watching the national news every night before bed. He could hold his own in any conversation, and had amazing math skills. I always felt proud to be in the presence of my father, at any social occasion, because he was an honest, honourable and loving man.
The following poem was written for my Dad for another reason, but I want to use it here as a tribute to his life. I am confident that I will see him again one day and when I do I want to tell him that I kept the promise I made when he passed away— to write for him.
Nobody could have ever loved us more than you did Dad
When I think of all the many things in life you could have had,
If you hadn’t always put us first and seen to all of our needs.
You will always be our hero Dad, because of your unsung deeds—
Putting shoes on sixteen feet not counting yours or Mom’s,
Paying at the counter for those dresses for our proms,
Putting more gas in every time you needed to move your car,
Even though we said we never drove it very far!
Paying for tonsillectomies before OHIP covered the cost,
Or glasses or retainers that some of us constantly lost.
Keeping our cupboards full of food, you worked so hard to be able
To provide a bounty for all of us, (and the neighbour kids at our table).
School clothes, class trips, insurance for driving boys,
Christmases unforgettable with special longed for toys
And keepsakes carefully crafted in secret late at night!
Your love for us seemed to have no end to its depth, its width, its height.
And so again on your birthday, we your family express our love.
To have you as our father was a special gift from above!
If you have a Dad, then even if things are difficult between you right now, make sure you make every effort to let him know you still love and appreciate him. If you are blessed with a great relationship with your father, then surprise him and tell him before Fathers’ Day how much he means to you. It will be all the more meaningful for him because it is unexpected.
Count your blessings and have a wonderful day!