The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

What Do Fathers Do?

By Elaine Slater Reese

My husband and I were on a long drive and, at some point, the conversation turned to our parents.  Then I observed that he seemed unusually quiet for a while. I've learned that if I don't press the issue, he eventually has something important to share.

And then there it was!  "For years, I thought my dad really wasn't much interested in me -that he didn't care very much. He had six kids and sold insurance.

We moved almost every two years - always trying for find a cheaper house to rent. I tried to rationalize that he was just too busy trying to provide food for eight people than to think much about me."

My husband paused. "Then one day when I was forty years old I was driving to work and it hit me.  I had never thought of it that way before. I remembered that every time it was raining or really cold or stormy my dad was at school to pick up my brother and sisters and me. 

I was shocked when I realized that he had been at every school function in which I participated - never missed a single game or special event. He died young, and all these years, I have been so wrong about him."

When we're young, we think we know it all. Then one day, our children think we know nothing. I thought of my own dad. I used to not understand why he didn't always have much to say. Then I figured it out - he knew when it was better to keep his mouth shut and he knew when he should speak.

It didn't make sense why he usually worked from dawn to dusk - until I had to balance my own checkbook to pay the bills. I didn't understand why he went to church regularly until I needed God in my life.

It made no sense why he had only one new car in his lifetime - until I had to make my own car payments. I couldn't fathom him buying a pony for his grandchildren to ride when they came to visit only about twice a year - until I held my first grandson.

He made sure I learned to be honest and hardworking - to not spend what I didn't have. I watched him grieve for a lost little boy. I learned that band-aids can't heal a broken heart. 

And one of the most important lessons I learned from him has helped me many times. When your heart is broken, don't allow it to turn to stone.  Reach out and love others. Dad's no longer here to teach me lessons in life, but I rely on those he engraved on my soul.