Just be the love, the rest will take care of itself
Think I'll color this man father
I think I'll color him love
— “Color Him Father, ” 1969 hit by The Winstons
There are no doubt other names and the prospect of even having a title might be daunting to some men – men who find themselves as step-dads, fathers-in-law, new fathers, etc.
To all fathers or fathers-to-be, I say: Lighten up, there is nothing to it.
I can imagination the concerns:
There is that “head of the household” thing.
Fathers and sons raises the potential for conflict.
There is worry about daughters and sons.
Can I sound authoritative; do I have anything to be authoritative about?
Can I change a diaper, help guide him or her through school, pay for college, walk her down the aisle, handle it when he moves away? How will kids affect the marriage?
Here is the deal: Just take it one moment at a time, moments that will fly by like a bullet train, leaving you with flashes from the past flittering around in the brain.
Is there a key to being a good father?
Of course, same as being a good mother. It is love.
How is that love expressed?
Just be there.
Hug or kiss or both.
Voice happy hellos and calm goodbyes.
Give words of encouragement, lots of words of encouragement.
My Dad was not at home much when I was living there for 20 years. I was up and off to school before he got up, and when I got home from school he was off to work at the movie theater, returning usually after midnight when I was asleep.
You might think that would not foster a strong relationship. Yet, I could not have cherished that man more, and in the summers when I could go work with him I was elated. Oddly, I remember the best parts being just riding in the car with him.
Every day I look at a framed photo above the dresser in our bedroom. The picture was made by a beloved friend, Paul, on one Halloween evening when Mary Ellen and I had taken our son Ryan to my parents' home. In the photo, I am clearly listening intently to Dad's every word (he spoke softly) as he sits in his usual living room chair and I beside him.
I wish I could do that again, have that moment back; but he would have to be 106 years old for us to do so now. He died at 83.
And that raises an interesting point.
Fathers (mothers, too) touch us in ways we don't expect and in ways we may not realize until many years have gone by. I suppose there are some so-called adult children that don't even think about it as life rushes by and that is sad.
In my estimation, Father's Day is just another day and if I get to see any of the kids a bit out of their busy schedules it is good.
But love need not be a face-to-face thing. We need not do anything for one another. The ties that bind have nothing to do with schedules or requirements. Fatherhood, motherhood, being a son or daughter is simply a manner of being.
So, as I said, lighten up, there is nothing to “do.” Just be the love. The rest will take care of itself.
Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.