I have always had a good relationship with my father, which might be too rosy of a backstory for cable, but it should play well in smaller markets. Sure, we have had our tiffs, but they have always worked out. And yes, I still resent that entire
years weeks of my childhood were lost to hard labor that would probably be illegal now, but I have been assured that I was also building character, so I’ve got that going for me.
My father has always been active in his community. He has either been on the town council or serving as mayor for more years than I care to remember. He supports local business. He chairs committees. He is there when they need him.
The same could be said for his parenting style. He supports me. He lets me sit on chairs and sometimes the sofa. He has always been there when I need him.
He does similar stuff for my sister.
We don’t agree on much in terms of politics or religion, but that is rarely an issue. The man is just so honest and earnest that even when you disagree with him, you cannot help but respect his commitment to what he feels to be right. He is well-respected by those that know him, which is not something many politicians can claim.
He is easy to be proud of.
My dad has had a tough run over the past few years. First he lost his mother to cancer. Then he lost his wife. Last month, he lost his father. He stood vigil over each during their time of need, whether it was quick, sad months, or long, waning years. He cared for them with every available hour of his day, and he gave every last ounce of strength that he could muster. Sometimes he left the side of one to go straight to that of the other. It was hard to watch from a state away, and it was incredibly noble. To him, it was a mix of love and duty. It was the right thing to do.
I remember walking through my stepmother’s funeral and being stopped repeatedly by people I hardly knew, assuming I knew them at all, and with their condolences and wonderful words for the woman we all loved, every single one of them offered praise for my father. They said he was good. They said he was kind. And they were right.
People with wet eyes and dark suits clutched my hand and thanked me for my father, as if I had something to do with the kind of man that he is, and I would nod with a smile when words were nothing but the floodgate to tears.
Thinking about it now, I probably did have something to do with the man that he is. I say that not in some self-indulgent manner, but as a son who is also a father. I know that my two boys have shaped me in ways that I never thought possible, and I assume it is the same, more or less, for everyone. And I know that my children have worked their magic on Grandpa, too.
But I can’t take all the credit. After all, the people voted for him.
These days, my dad spends his time doing the things that mayors do and taking daily hikes that make my chest hurt. He is following new pursuits with old friends, and he is enjoying himself. He is doing the right thing.
I am thankful for that.
We’re celebrating Father’s Day by celebrating leaning into fatherhood and by recognizing the extraordinary men that are our own fathers. We hope that it will inspire you to thank your own dad or the dad who most inspires you. Find more letters and stories about leaning into parenthood here. And, of course, find your own Lean In inspiration at LeanIn.org.