Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Special Kind of Dad

Early in the twentieth century, a young woman named Sonora Smart Dodd was listening to a Mother’s Day sermon when a novel idea occurred to her. Sonora’s mother had died in childbirth, leaving her and her five sisters to be raised by their dad, Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart. Sonora wanted to honor her father’s selfless commitment, sacrifice and loving parenting, and did so by pioneering the celebration of Father’s Day – a day to honor the most significant man in the life of a child.

But what exactly is a dad? The simple act of siring a child does not automatically qualify a man for fatherhood. There are many men who, though not biologically responsible for a child – big brothers, uncles, adopted dads, and step fathers for example, are some of the best dads I have ever known. And I guess that’s the heart of it. Anyone can be a father, but it takes a special kind of man to really be a dad.

A dad makes a commitment. He will hold you in the middle of the night when you’re scared, and not complain that he is losing much needed sleep. He will put training wheels on your bike so you won’t fall and get hurt, only to someday take them off again and run along beside you time and again, his hand on the back of the seat, until you are ready to go it alone. He will take you shopping for your mother’s birthday so you will feel good about yourself while learning to honor her. He will sneak out with you in the dark of night to toilet paper the house of a school mate, and not tell your mom until years later. A dad will scrutinize your friends and be brave enough to forbid you to hang out with the ones he doesn’t approve of. He will go to work every day to provide for his family and mow the grass on the weekends. He’ll proudly walk you down the aisle when you marry, or be man enough to share the honor with your “real” dad, who after all those years, suddenly wanted to be part of your big day.

A dad. He is a comforter, a teacher, a friend and a protector. He is someone you can count on. Someone you can trust, and love. In our family, his name is Gary. Happy Father’s Day to all you dads!