Six weeks ago we devoted our Sunday to the great mothers of the world, and showered them with our thoughts and attention. Today, it is the fathers' turn. How better to start than to remember my own father who died just last year at the ripe old age of 98. Dad was one of those hard working individuals who began each day at 4:00am seven days a week, a practice he continued even after retirement up until the day he had to be confined to a nursing home at age 96. For him there were no days off, weekends, holidays or vacations. From the time he was fourteen years old it was work, work, work to build a family business thanks to his strict and demanding father. In turn, I am proud to say that he passed some of that same strong work ethic on to me. But did that background make him a dull, bitter or angry person? To the contrary he was a handsome, charming and caring husband and father who loved to socialize, cook for large dinner parties and fish when time permitted. In fact in his later years after retirement and the death of my mother, he found another companion who became the love of his life with whom he would often travel to Cabo St. Lucas to catch the big ones, and then to Rockport, Texas to haul in those marvelous redfish which Paul Prudhomme blackened and made so famous in the Big Easy. He was fiercely independent up until age 96, living alone and driving himself and others where ever they wished, but life headed downhill the last eighteen months of his life when the nursing home became his habitat.
But just like the May 9th post, that's about a parent from the past. Juxtapose the life of my father who came from that rapidly disappearing "greatest generation" who were born during the turn of the century, grew up during the depression, lived through two world wars, participated in the industrial revolution, fueled the growth of suburban America and became its middle class with the life of the modern father. In many cases you will find vast differences brought about by diverse lifestyles, new priorities, social changes and rapidly evolving technology. Does that "greatest generation" tag make my father better than today's fathers? Of course not. Like with the young mothers who were lauded here last month, I marvel at what today's committed great fathers do to enrich their family experience in addition to working hard at their jobs each day. Unlike patriarchal fathers of the past, many are very connected to and involved with raising their children starting at very early ages with bathing and changing diapers, and then progressing to providing them with entertainment, helping with homework, coaching sports teams, listening to problems and, most importantly, providing a safe and nurturing home environment in which their children can and grow and develop into responsible and caring adults. What could be more rewarding?
But, sadly, not all homes are so blessed. In fact, society is rife with problems (e.g. drugs, crime, jail, etc.) often caused directly by the absence of fathers. This very issue has often been addressed in a variety of news stories and articles in great and vivid detail. Currently, it is the subject of a book entitled "FATHER FICTION" by New York Times bestselling author Donald Miller who tells about his own experience of growing up without a father. My take on the gist of his message as discussed this past Thursday on the Diane Rehm Show at http://thedianerehmshow.org is how by default he learned so many things second hand from other male figures, and how important the sustained presence of a strong father figure in the home is to impressionable children.
Obviously, I cannot identify with that circumstance, nor can my four granddaughters who are blessed with having fathers who personify the modern mold described above, and who I would like to salute today. First, there is our son, Edward, who has the benefit of a great education, a wonderful wife, stimulating career jobs in the Silicon Valley of California, great friends and two beautiful daughters who are the center of his life and the beneficiaries of his dedication as an involved father. Then, there is our son-in-law, Mike, who also has the benefit of a great education, a wonderful wife, a successful career in the film industry while living in his beloved New York, great friends and two beautiful daughters who benefit from his direct and loving involvement in their lives. In truth, I'm the blessed one, made more so by the fact that both families are back in Little Rock this weekend to help celebrate my Father's Day. So, to all of you "grandi patri" out there, whether from the old generation or the new, let me pass my happiness on and wish you a "Happy Father's Day!"
Laura Raborn at http://paintingsofhome.com and http://claygifts.com
Jim Johnson at http://yessy.com/jimjohnson/gallery.html
Russ Powell at http://powellphotos.com
Linda Flake at http://lindaflake.com
Tom Herrin at http://tommysart.blogspot.com
Matt McLeod at http://firstname.lastname@example.org
Artists Registry at http://www.arkansasarts.org/programs/registry/default.aspx
Barry Thomas exclusively at Ellen Golden French Antiques in the Heights
Local Colour Gallery at http://localcolourgallery.com
Chroma Gallery at http://chromagallery.com
Cantrell Gallery at http://cantrellgallery.com
Greg Thompson Fine Art at http://gregthompsonfineart.com