Today I'm remembering my dad and what it is about him that made me love him so much. He's been gone from this world for several years; yet still his memory lingers lovingly in my heart and mind. Here's why:
1. He made sure I knew he loved me
I could see it in his eyes and in his smile when he looked at me. It was a look of adoration. He didn't do a lot of hugging, but enough to let me know I mattered to him. Kids remember those looks and hugs from their dad.
He expected me to be obedient. He told me what he expected and I knew I better do it. Once as a teenager, I was supposed to meet my dad at the gate after a football game. I was smitten by one of the players whom Dad had asked me to stop dating. My "boyfriend" asked me to meet him after the game at the local hangout. I thought I'd only be with him a few minutes, then run back to meet my dad at the gate. But I took too long. Instead, Dad knew where the kids hung out and came to get me. He didn't yell. He just took me firmly by the hand and led me out. All he said was, "When I say meet me at the gate I mean meet me at the gate." I met him at the gate from then on. And that was the last date I had with that boy.
3. He taught me to live right
He and Mom were diligent in seeing that we all went to church every week. My dad was a spiritual giant in my eyes. I watched him live what he taught. He was honest, kind, helped the neighbors, served at church, never cursed, played with us, and loved our mom. We knew how to live just by watching him. I'm sure he wasn't perfect, but somehow I scarcely remember any imperfections. I think that's how it is when your kids see you trying to live a good life.
4. He never hit me
I do remember a time when he firmly took hold of my shoulders with a hand on each side and, looking directly into my eyes, said, "Did you hear what I said?" At that point every word he said came clearly to my mind. I knew he meant what he said. That's about as rough as it ever got. He didn't ever spank me. I do remember stern looks at times. Just as the loving looks made an impression, the stern ones spoke volumes.
5. He taught my brothers to respect me
I had one little sister and seven brothers. Dad made it perfectly clear that the boys were to respect their sisters — and they did. They were my protectors. I knew I was safe with them near. As all brothers, they may have made my life a bit miserable at times with teasing, but they wouldn't let anyone hurt me, nor would they ever.
He worked hard to make sure we always had enough. He was a farmer with a love for the land. I watched how hard he worked. I saw that he went without so that we could have some things we wanted that were not necessities. Or when the budget simply wouldn't allow, we knew he wished he could give us more. Making do was my parents' motto and they did it well. I still wonder how they afforded to send me to college, but they did — and I'm forever grateful.
7. He taught me how to work
My job was to help Mom with household responsibilities while the boys did the outside work. He needed them and Mom needed me. My sister was too little to help much, so it was mostly up to Mom and me. Once when Dad said he needed me to help weed the sugar beets Mom said, "I gave you seven sons for the fields. This one's for me." He didn't ask again. But he did make it clear that I was to help with whatever Mom asked me to.
I watched him pray. He taught me how. I watched him during difficult times when others may have lost faith; but not him. He turned to God in good times and in bad. His faith was deep and real. Because of his steady faith, I too have faith and feel peace in my life.
A father's influence is significantly important. Children need dads who set an example of integrity, love and faith. I'm glad I had one of those fathers.
To learn more about the importance of fathers, click here.