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Un-Father's Day Tribute to Good Fathers
Note: Names and pictures are changed to protect privacy
In my humble opinion, a good father is more precious than any jewel on earth whether to a daughter or a son. It would be hard to say which benefits from good fathering more. But this will be about the father-son relationship.
Obviously there are great fathers whose situations have frustrated their ability to fully demonstrate their love and aptness in the role. There are those who demonstrate it daily and constantly, due to a set of fortuitous circumstances which allow them to express the goodness in themselves. But to either set of circumstances, I feel a desire to pay full tribute.
No one else can fully know the situations producing either of these scenarios. But a father’s heart can almost be FELT and observed when it it sincere and true. We know many men whose fatherhood has been interrupted by truly sad and undeserved situations and our hearts go out to them. No matter what a parent - either parent - may have done to each other - the children need to experience the genuine love of both and unless domestic offenses include mistreatment of the children, they should not be deprived of either parent.
But all that is not an issue I wish to address here or now. It is the goodness of fathers in any set of circumstances which I do want to praise and recognize, and their deserving this does not rely on any circumstances other than that it IS and will demonstrate itself plainly if allowed to do so. Even in situations in which a parent has been deprived of the opportunity and access to bestow his or her love - that love is no less admirable. At times the willingness to not tear at the children in an untenable situation may be the most loving act the exiled parent can demonstrate. Using children as pawns is too despicable for words. And we know there are cases of that among us. Again, that is not the subject here. But that even in such improbable circumstances, real love can and will be demonstrated, is part of this presentation.
What brought this subject, though - of the sweetness of a father-son relationship to my mind on this particular Sunday in November, 2010 was looking out my kitchen window across the alley at a tender scene which brought me to be reminded of the essential role a father plays in a child's life, and my attention was focused on the role-model part of that relationship, especially of a father and a young son.
But first, please let me elaborate a little on the background of the scene I observed and the characters of the people involved, as I have been able to observe over some time.
Nowadays, one often only gets to know neighbors slightly - but the good folks come through as good, nevertheless. I am blessed with several such neighbors on either side and across the alley. We don't cling to each other - but it is nice to know they are there and would "do for" me and each other with willing and gracious hearts. I could write a whole article about the kindness of some of these fine folks. Here, I merely want to set the scene for the sweet relationship I have been privy to simply by observation, witness. So I want to introduce you to the principle players in it.
Several years ago, when my beloved was still alive, two twins - Sue and Jane (not their real names) - moved into the house whose backyard is on the alley across from ours. We spoke only casually since they were young and had their own lives, work, friends, parties, etc., so we didn’t know much more about them than was readily observeable, and once in awhile we might share quick chat with them or their parents, on occasions when they arrived in the daytime when the girls were at work, when they came by to tend to the girls' yard. We were fascinated at this sweet generosity which they obviously wanted to do and enjoyed doing with their free time, while the girls' free time seemed more limited. The nature of their work meant that their schedules didn't coincide to pitch in and do yard work together on a mutual day off.
Their house is in this middle-to-upper class neighborhood which is mostly occupied by retired folks who originally bought these houses brand new decades ago. It's rather rare for younger folks to move into the neighborhood now, though not unheard of.
The girls seemed content in their arrangement and life went on quietly until, a few years ago, changes began to emerge when a "POD" appeared in their driveway and Jane seemed to be stashing things into it. Sure enough, after a few weeks, the POD was removed, and before long, Jane was no longer to be seen coming and going. She seemed not to be living there. Before long, there was a young man to be seen there.
I don’t consider myself a nosey neighbor; I have more than enough to keep my mind jumping to keep up with my projects and interests, but all this change was impossible to not notice! Couldn’t help but notice Sue and the young man frequently sitting out on the patio during their at-home times. So there they were, in plain view from the rooms where I usually spend most of my time!
Various changes happened. It was obvious that they both work in professional capacity, according to their business attire and the hours and days they go to work.
After my darling had passed away, another neighbor across the alley, while helping me in various ways with some of my chores, mentioned that she'd had the opportunity to meet Sue’s boyfriend. So - the natural question was answered. I'd no idea whether or not they were married, nor did it matter; I just didn't know, but then - I did, and I felt much good will for them.
One day I was out in my backyard having an issue with the yard sprinklers, when the young man appeared nearby and generously offered to help me with it! He introduced himself as “Jane’s boyfriend,Lon” in a totally up-front way, which I highly respected. I noticed that he had the most beautiful eyes I may ever have seen on a human being. As an artist, I couldn’t help but notice
A few more years droned on for the neighborhood, The young couple hosted Christmas Bar-B-Qs and occasionally other parties, but mostly they just came from and went to work, sat out on the patio and let the dogs out to exercise before returning inside. It was a normal quiet neighborhood.
Once I got out some freezer-burned roast beef which was too poor to cook but too good to discard without trying to offer it to them for their dogs. One never knows what sort of a reception such an offer will receive but Sue was most gracious and it did my heart good to be able to do that. She still has "Roscoe" - the dog who was there when she and Jane were the occupants. Roscoe always barked at me when I was out in the yard till I called him by name and spoke to him in friendly tones. Now there have been other dogs added to the household.
What is great to see is that everyone seems genuinely congenial. I just feel happy for them.
Still the focus of this tribute is to fatherhood. It is encouraging to see any example of a kind of easy-going camaraderie between guys, at whatever age and stage, at the very least. Men need each other's company and good-will. No doubt it has its earliest roots in a relationship between a boy and his Dad, though many brave men sometimes find it within themselves, as many of our fellow Hubbers have demonstrated.
What is This?
A New Addition?
Then one day this fall, I saw there was a kid’s little yellow tractor in the yard and a darling little boy was around on some weekends riding it, with Lon frequently out in the yard with this cute little blonde tyke. Their easy esprit d’corps is something to behold!
Then more recently, Lon brought home some large boxes which he unpacked from his SUV in the garage, and before long was assembling a very nice kid’s swing and playhouse set and installing it in the back yard!
There could be little doubt that he was enjoying some fatherly privileges with this adorable son!! It was truly joyous. It was done in the most healthy, natural way, too, which impressed and delighted me.
This morning, as I was pouring another cup of coffee, I looked out and there they were. Lon’s SUV was pulled out of the garage and the door to the storage part of the garage was open and he and the little fellow were pulling boards of lumber out of a storage place and loading them into the back of the SUV, I’d guess to keep them good and dry while Lon prepares further for whatever the project is.
The beauty of it was the way Lon accepted the little fellow's help matter-of-factly, which surely made it seem acceptable to the little one and helped establish the esprit-de-corps which is so good to see between guys.
Now, for awhile they were both inside. Lon came back alone. Possibly it’s nap time for the youngster. Lon has cleared a piece of large woodworking equipment and is clearing other stored items out of the way.
I’ve no idea what the project might be - it’s totally beside the point, and totally none of my business - but it is my privilege to observe the lovely father-son relationship that grabbed me by the heartstrings. Lon’s respect for the little fellow’s efforts was natural and unforced and the little guy was giving the task all his best. Though Lon is normally dressed in suit and tie for work, he was in t-shirt and jeans with a backwards ball cap on, being so available to his little boy.
Ah - glanced out my patio door and see that they are sitting together under their patio umbrella on their back porch. Nice. Sue has joined them. She frequently comes out and swings the little guy in the swings and turns him round and round on the suspended tire on the set. The apparent caring attitude with the child is as natural as if he were her own. It's a scene to delight the viewer; - and no doubt even more so, the participants!
That Lon is enjoying this relationship in such a wonderfully normal/natural way is uplifting to behold. I can’t help but rejoice in the scene and sort of visualize the memories being implanted in the little one’s memory - and surely, in the kind, gentle, good father’s as well.
Sometimes it is rewarding to make like a snoopy neighbor! I hope I may be forgiven!
It all makes me feel such closeness for our fellow hubbers whose own stories include issues of the heart and the relationships with their children which suffered in sad circumstances which surely should not have been affected by grownups' issues. I can only hope that their losses may somehow be remedied for the good of all concerned and without bitterness. If Lon and his little son is any example of hope, let them shine forth brightly on this lovely day in a season of Thanksgiving.