Tag Archives: Fathers Day

The Word Father Is A Verb

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Steven is in the back row on the right.Note how many small cousins there were, and more were on the way!

Steven is in the back row on the right.Note how many small cousins there were, and more were on the way!

The following post is one I have chosen to repeat in honour of my son Steven’s birthday today.

My son Steven loves babies and toddlers and children of all ages. He enjoys engaging infants in interactions that provoke smiles and gurgles of delight, no matter how uncool his behaviour may seem to any macho type guys in his vicinity. Toddlers give him a great deal of joy too, as he plays their games, with the give and take of surprise that most of their fun is based on. Big and small giggles and smiles, and even rolling on the ground silliness often transpire.

For most of his growing up years, until he began high school, there were babies in our house, as we had a home Day Care for many years. With new little ones coming in each year at the same rate as the older ones started school, there was generally a baby in the mix, and a range of ages among the preschool children. Steven was my parents’ first grandchild, followed closely by his sister Carrie, and several years later by a dozen cousins. Because of the age gap, his role was more of a young uncle than a cousin to them. With older kids, he enjoys challenging them, with good humour, to show off what they already know, or even what they don’t. That way he can get on with the task of teaching them to learn those things in fun ways. He would make a great teacher. He is one of the few people I know who has thus far shown himself to be nonjudgemental of other peoples’ mistakes, not their deliberate wrong-doing of course, but their mistakes. In that, he has shown that he has the most necessary qualification for fatherhood.

Steven is a bachelor, but not by choice. If the right woman were to come along, I’m sure he’d be delighted. He does, however, have two girls in his life, two girls that he loves dearly, Amanda, and Samantha. He has loved them both for a very long time. They call him Dad, because that is what he is to them. He has been there for them since they were little, since the very first time they came to sit on his front step to have a visit from their neighbouring house. When things were not going well between these two sisters, and they would argue, as very close siblings often do, he would encourage them to get along, as any good father would. He was a friend to their mother, and he would often take all three of them out shopping, and even help out at times when they struggled to make ends meet.

Their mom was on her own with them, having tragically lost both of their fathers, in turn, when they were very young. So Steven gradually became the father figure that neither girl had and that both of them needed, giving help with homework, taking them fishing, or bringing them to family events. He made himself accessible and available as their protector and counsellor, and even acted as a disciplinarian if behaviour sometimes warranted a withdrawal of  any privileges that he had given them, and therefore was in charge of at the time.

This is a role that is hard to take on in today’s culture. We live in a society that is totally suspicious of even the most honourable of intentions in all interactions between men and girls, particularly when the man is not in a relationship with their mother. Simply caring about their well-being and their futures, justified to Steven his presence in their lives, no matter what anyone else might think or say about it. The first time I ever heard one of the girls call Steven “Dad” I was taken aback, and then I realized that that’s exactly what he had become; in fact in looking back, it was what he had been for a very long time. I mentioned it to Steven, who told me that for quite a while the girls had been giving him the Dad cards normally given for birthdays and Fathers Day too. I was thankful that he had remained steadfast in his determination to be there for them, no matter what, because having a father figure means so much to a girl.

On an early fall day in 2010 the girls, who were by then in their late teens, lost their mother. It was sudden, unanticipated and overwhelmingly tragic. Neither of them has a surviving birth parent now, and we still feel great sadness for them both. We are, however, incredibly thankful that God deemed to put into place for them, long before the tragedy happened, a man who chose to be their father. We know that his own life had prepared him to have the empathy and compassion to help them through.

The Word Father Is A Verb

To father is to care; to father is to share.

To father is to give, and to always just be there.

To father is to listen, to father is to know

Just what will make things better, and then to make it so.

To father isn’t always just what  matching genes support;

To father doesn’t always lead to adoption files in court.

To father is to care enough to love, and just to be

Where you are, and who you are, for the ones who need to see

That they themselves are valuable enough for you to care

To give yourself, to share yourself, and always just be there.

 

Your father and I thank you Steven, from the bottom of our hearts.

We are so proud that you are our son. Love, Mom and Dad

He Made Us Proud!

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Mom and Dad, with 7 of us kids. Number 8 is still just a glimmer in Dad's eye.

Mom and Dad, with 7 of us kids. Number 8 is still just a glimmer in Dad’s eye.

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.

To Dad,

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!

Yvonne