Cleaning Out –
The last two days my mother and I have been working in my dad’s garage. It may be mom’s house but it will always be dad’s garage. We’ve been going through a lot of stuff which needed to be sorted. By the time we finished I had things to throw away, to keep and the garage was clean and organized.
It was a sad and enjoyable time rummaging through dad’s things. He loved tools and one could tell as we tried collecting them in one place. There was paint from projects long ago completed and recent work. Other items hadn’t been opened yet and we wondered; “What project was he thinking about when he bought this?”
The garage was a sacred space for my father. None of us would’ve dared gone in and rearranged it before his passing. My mom said this morning; “I know it needs to be done but I don’t want to do it.” I understood what she meant. There was a sense of invading another’s domain, eery and holy at the same time. There were items we kept not because they were important but because we just aren’t ready to part with them.
I think this best describes our walk down the path this week. We know we must go on without dad but we just aren’t ready to part with him.
Presence Equals Influence –
In a few weeks, the community organization I work for and a pregnancy center in Bedford county Tennessee will be hosting a breakfast for dads. I met with the director of the pregnancy center today to go over the details and take a tour of the facility. It was a productive time together and I was able to see and feel the heart of the woman who has dedicated her life to save every child possible, help every family possible.
At the breakfast, I will be speaking with the dads regarding their importance to their families, especially their children. One of the mottoes we use at the Fatherhood Engagement Project is; “Presence Equals Influence.” If you’re not present you cannot have the impact on their lives of those who need you most.
Presence being a prerequisite for influence is not just true for dads but for us all. There are so many ills in our society today. At times it can be so overwhelming figuring out where to start and what to do to help. We give up before we’ve even tried.
If our lives are to be a positive influence in this desperate world the first thing we have to do is show up and then believe we can make a difference with what happens next.
A Real Chance –
This morning our Fatherhood Engagement program hosted a Dad/Child reading event in an adjacent county. These are always a good time with a light brunch, puppet show, a reading time with Dad and the kids and a short lecture from me on the importance of fathers being involved in their child’s reading, educational development. I stress the vital role of moms and dads working together to give their child the greatest chance at their best life.
Last week I met a new client in his late 30’s who needed some guidance on connecting with a difficult child. We talked about issues he felt needed to be addressed and improved upon so he could be the dad he wanted to be. When we were wrapping up, I confirmed his cell phone number and told him; “ I have your next session set but I also text my clients to check in and make sure everything is going well.” After a moment he said to me; “I can’t read.” He said it nonchalantly and I did my best not to display any surprise but inside I was taken aback. This is one of those basic abilities most of us take for granted every day. I mentally added this to my list of issues we’d discuss and, hopefully, make a plan to solve.
I thought about this guy several times today during the reading event. I wondered how someone a few years younger than me could get through life without knowing how to read? Did he not have someone, somewhere along his life’s path who noticed and cared enough to help? The dads at our event today crawled around the floor with their kids, made paper bag puppets, sang “Ol’ Mac Donald had a farm,” and then were given the chance to read a book from the library to their children.
My hope is this event today would be a part of these kids developing not just a love of reading but a building of skills which will give them give them every advantage possible in a life that’s already hard enough.
Struggling on Father’s Day-
My heart is heavy on this Father’s day. I have a great dad who has sacrificed much for me and did his best, always, to be a good role model, showing me how to be a good man. I am thankful for the love and support he gives me.
No, my heart is heavy because of a father I know who lost his son this past week. His son, who had just graduated high school, his whole life ahead of him, gone in an instant. My heart is heavy for those men killed in Orlando, Florida a week ago. A community where fathers’ criess of brokenness and loss still fill the air. My heart is heavy for friends and others I know whose fathers have died, leaving a hole no one else can fill. My heart is heavy for the men in my Incarcerated Dad’s classes who want to be good fathers. They want to love their kids but sometimes don’t know how. They long to see their children but mothers, partners and wives choose to keep them away because of the jail environment and choices these men have made. I’ve heard and seen tributes to fathers today in church, on Facebook walls, Sunday television shows and my spirit aches.
Wisdom teaches that our lives are as vapor. A wisp of wind and they are gone. Like summer grass that springs up in the morning but is withered in the heat of the day. I think of fathers gone too soon and children snatched from the clutches of those who loved them dearly and sigh. It may be Father’s Day but for some the day does not bring happiness.