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The Fathers in My Life

I’m eternally grateful for the many fathers in my life.
First of course, was my own father.
A funny man. A brilliant man. A well respected man.

But the man I knew as a child seemed to slowly disappear as I grew older, and I missed the man he’d been before.

As my father slowly pulled further and further from the church, he also pulled further and further from his family until finally, he pulled away completely and left. The relationship that ensued afterwards was a strained and distant one.

Despite the pain from having essentially lost my father seventeen years before he actually passed away, I am so grateful for the many wonderful memories I have from my childhood and the things I learned from him.

My father gave me his love for music. The singing, the piano playing, the love of harmony, the appreciation for a great melody and a great bass line. That’s my father in me.

My father taught me how to look criticism in the eye. He taught me how to respond to the teasing of a bully, how to NOT be a victim. I know how to stand up for myself and speak for myself, and I owe that to my father.

There are many things I could list. It’s enough to say that before he lost his way, my father was a good father. And despite his faults and weaknesses, especially when it came to issues of faith, my father certainly fulfilled his role as protector and provider. He led a long and distinguished military career which provided his family with a wonderful life. I honor him for all the good he did do.

Second, an inspired Bishop.
Without a father that I could talk to about things of the heart and spirit, the father of my ward took on that roll. When I was about to make the mistake of a lifetime by marrying “the wrong man”, it was my Bishop who was the one person who had the nerve to say it to my face. He said it sweetly. He said it as tenderly as he could, with my hands in his. But he said it firmly and with a conviction that could only come through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. It was hard to hear, but I needed to hear it. And I knew he was right. I honor him for his righteous courage; for loving me enough to tell me the truth.

Third, a faithful home teacher.
Again, a priesthood holder with a true love for those he was called to serve, stepped up to the plate to help a mother and her children who no longer had a father in the home. This good man and his wife took my family in when we had no where to go. He gave me and my brothers our first ‘”Father’s blessings”. He ordained one of my brothers to the priesthood. He ordained my then boyfriend, and later served as his escort when we went to the temple for our endowments and were married. He stood in the circle when my husband blessed our first baby. He was as much of a father to our family as he could be, and I honor him for his love, his example and his faithfulness.

Fourth, my husband and the father of our children.
After my experience of growing up in a home without priesthood leadership, without a father who could baptize his children, give them blessings when they were sick, who wouldn’t lead them in family scirpture study and prayer, who didn’t have a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, a living prophet and the Book of Mormon, there was no way I was going to live the rest of my life without it. I couldn’t change what had been up until then, but I was determined to change everything after it. My future children would have what I didn’t.

My husband is everything good about my father, and everything good that my father could have been. He’s a funny man. A brilliant man. A well respected man. He devoutly serves as protector and provider for his family. More importantly, he’s a faithful priesthood holder who has a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, a living prophet and The Book of Mormon. He worthily blessed our babies. He baptized them and gives them father’s blessings and blessings of healing. Each night he leads our family in scripture study and family prayer. He ordained our son, and will escort him through the temple one day.

He plays with his children. This afternoon, as he and our son plus half the boys in our neighborhood were running through the house, hiding behind walls, couches and opened closet doors, shooting each other with Nerf guns, I was tempted to ask them to do it outside, but I stopped myself. Nothing that could be broken was irreplaceable.

Those moments however, are irreplaceable. Watching all these boys who aren’t even all ours, but who look up to my husband like a father, and seeing them all having fun together within the walls of our home, that’s irreplaceable.

I honor him for his faithfulness; for his love, his leadership and strength and for the priesthood he worthily bears and with which he blesses and serves others. He’s a wonderful father, a faithful husband, and I love him with all my heart.

Lastly, my Father in Heaven.
So far yet so close. Even if all these other men had never been in my life, my Father in Heaven was always there. He’s still there.

I honor Him for His marvelous plan of happiness; for His unfailing love and mercy in sending His Son, Jesus Christ to light the way for me to return home to His loving arms; for hearing and answering the prayers of His daughter.

On this Father’s Day I give Him thanks and praise, for I know that it’s only through His hand that I have had all these wonderful fathers in my life.

Happy Father’s Day to all of them.

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Michelle D June 14, 2008, 9:31 pm

    What a touching tribute! You brought tears to my eyes. You encapsulate so well how I feel about the fathers in my own life, even though situations may differ.

  • davidson June 14, 2008, 11:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart with us, Face. I hope your father is reading over your shoulder from that new vantage point of his. I hope your husband gets to read it too. And I know Heavenly Father sees and knows. You remind me to rejoice.

  • jennycherie June 15, 2008, 7:00 am

    beautiful article, Tracy!

  • delmar June 15, 2008, 4:41 pm

    that was beautiful!

  • Ray June 15, 2008, 6:19 pm

    Thank you. WONDERFUL!

  • kiar June 15, 2008, 8:33 pm

    thank you for reminding us of the fathers out there who aren’t blood! We speak alot of the mothers who aren’t mothers (biologically speaking), but fathers seem to be in the background.
    I too am blessed with a dad I wasn’t born to. He has been there since we moved into our new ward, when my van died, when my husband was in the academy 2 hours away and I was at home with 3 kids and a newborn. He has been there to participate in the blessing of our new baby, and my children call him grandpa. He is there for all of us when we need to cry, to celebrate, and has adopted us into his family. I was born on the day he was baptized in 1979! His sweet wife says I was obviously meant to be a part of thier family.
    Again, thank you for the touching and sweet tribute to fathers.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 15, 2008, 9:46 pm

    Thanks, Tracy.

    You know, I don’t think I have any other father figures in my life, except my Heavenly Father, of course. I was very blessed to be adopted into a family where my dad did (and still does) fill every nook and cranny of that need. He is such a blessing to me. Of course, that just further supports your idea that fathers need not be biologically related.

    Interestingly, today at Church Light, there was an acknowledgement made to “all the fathers in the congregation.” None of the “all the men” or “all the bretheren who influence so many others” that we allow on Mother’s Day. It’s Father’s Day and so they nodded to the dads.

    I know my father hurt right along with my mother when they couldn’t have children. At BEA I had a discussion with Matt Miller, the cute author of Maybe Baby. He gave me a copy of his book. I haven’t read it yet, but his pain is real, even in his humorous dealing with it.

    So I wonder why we don’t give the same accommodation to the men? Or maybe we give too much to the women?

    Anyway, rambling. I loved this thoughtful article.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 15, 2008, 10:01 pm

    Tracy, you have two “third”s in your article… 🙂

  • Ray June 15, 2008, 10:06 pm

    “So I wonder why we don’t give the same accommodation to the men?”

    Because the men don’t complain about it to the Bishop. It really is that simple.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 15, 2008, 10:41 pm

    Posted By: RayBecause the men don’t complain about it to the Bishop. It really is that simple.

    Which I suppose was my point. :shocked: It just got me thinking, “Why can’t we just do that on Mother’s Day?”

    I won’t go on, since it’s a total threadjack of a beautiful article. But maybe I’ll write about it sometime.

  • jennycherie June 16, 2008, 4:18 am

    Allison, I had that conversation with my husband on Saturday night! I was so glad that our ward was doing something (albeit very small–they each got a loaf of bread) to recognize fathers but it does seem that at church, everyone walks on eggshells on Mother’s Day and nearly ignores Father’s Day.

  • facethemusic June 16, 2008, 6:10 am

    Oh, DUH!!!!!!!

  • kiar June 16, 2008, 9:30 am

    Our dads (men) got cookies in a celophane bag. I could tell that they were happy! The way that they were passed out I liked too! the young men went through priesthood, and then came and found any others out in the hall or Primary. It was lowkey, but still very loving. And heck, who doens’ like giant cookies?

  • Ray June 16, 2008, 11:19 am

    We got a chocolate bar. I was happy.

  • davidson June 16, 2008, 11:36 am

    Our fathers also got chocolate bars, Ray, right after being read the Proclamation on the Family in which it says that mothers should be equal partners with fathers in all their associations. Did you share your chocolate bar with Michelle? I shared my dying Mother’s Day plant with my husband! it seems only reasonable.:bigsmile: 😉

  • shanant June 16, 2008, 8:59 pm

    All the men in our ward got a necklace made out of treats. It was very nice and fun to see everyone wearing them. But I really liked what our ward did for the women on Mother’s Day. After Sacrament meeting they handed out one of small pamphlet talks, then during Relief Society the men took over any callings like Primary, Young Women’s etc. so we (all members of Relief Society) could be in Relief Society. We had a very short lesson (the sister teaching gave us each a carnation) and they feed us a meal. It was a very nice buffet with lots of different choices. This is the third year in a row they have feed us during Relief Society. I have not heard any complaints about what our ward does for Mother’s Day!

  • nanacarol June 16, 2008, 11:17 pm

    Tracy-how great you are!!! I sure enjoyed the tribute. As I laid in bed Saturday night I got to thinking, what did the Relief Society do for the priesthood?? Nothing, we did not even talk about it. However, the Young Women came thru again. They even did the program in Sacrament Meeting. The tributes to the fathers from the girls just about had everyone of us crying. My own husband even cried. It just was so touching to hear the tributes of these Young Women. The one especially because of all that young 16 year old has been thru in her life. She just said I know my dad loves me. Wow. you had to be there to get it. Wow again!! Thanks again Tracy!

  • Tinkerbell June 19, 2008, 11:57 pm

    Beautiful post, Tracy. It is so refreshing to hear an article praising good men and fathers. It seems like men are diminished so often in the media and modern society.

    It sounds like my father did something similar to your father. I communicate with him now, but it is hard to find the good. I have found the “acceptable”, “tolerable”. I have developed a shallow relationship. But, to truly find the “good” and appreciate it is another level I am working on. (sigh) I admire that about you. It shows forgiveness.

    Our ward gave out cookies. My sweet husband had three. He split them in half, so that each of the three oldest kids got a half. He was supposed to take the last whole and give me a half, but like the selfless man he is, he took the half and left me the whole one as I was loading kids in the car. Always having to prove he’s such a great man. :bigsmile:

  • Tinkerbell June 20, 2008, 12:02 am

    nanacarol, that is really neat. The hard part is that so many kids don’t have fathers in the home. In my old ward, maybe half the girls had fathers who were involved in their lives? It makes for a tricky situation. We made gifts for Mother’s Day as a YW activity because all the girls had mothers to give them to. We didn’t do anything for Father’s Day because we didn’t want it to be hard for the girls who don’t have Fathers. I always had a hard time with that. On the one hand, I understood deeply how the girls felt. After my dad left, we never went to church on Father’s Day because my mom didn’t want to put us through listening to how great everyone else’s dads were. On the other hand, how can we show appreciation for fatherhood and help the girls to see that this is what they want in their own homes? They need to marry men who will be great fathers. It’s tricky, I think.

  • facethemusic June 20, 2008, 9:44 am

    I have found the “acceptable”, “tolerable”. I have developed a shallow relationship. But, to truly find the “good” and appreciate it is another level I am working on. (sigh) I admire that about you. It shows forgiveness

    Tink, if you’re having a relationship with your father, even if it’s a more superficial one, doesn’t that show forgiveness?
    You don’t have to have one with him at all. But clearly, you haven’t completely given up on him, and you’re willing to look past certain things to maintain and honor that relationship.
    For me, being able to find the good in my father had mostly to do with looking in the past, to the man he was before he started to lose his way. Other than that “the good things” in him I could see AFTER , though they were “good” , they werent’ the necessary things or the important things.
    He was funny, he was a good singer, you could have an intelligent conversation with him– but there wasn’t a REAL father/daughter relationship. There wasn’t any effort on his part to have one either. (Except for about 3 or 4 months before he passed. To be honest, I think he knew he was sick and dying and wasn’t telling anyone.)
    Don’t be hard on yourself. When people are unrepentent and/or are still in the thick of their sin, forgiveness doesn’t look the same as it does otherwise. Think about it, if your father was truly repentent and had a change of heart, would your relationship be different than it is now?
    Would you be able to find more good in him, and not have to settle for what’s acceptable and tolerable? Of course! But as long as he continues to be on the wrong path, you’re relationship is going to be strained, even if you’ve forgiven him.
    As far the situation you described from Young Women, we always had the same situation.
    No fathers.
    But like you said, it’s important for girls to learn to appreciate good men, fatherly qualities etc. I think your concern about just avoiding Father’s Day in an attempt to shield them is a legitimate concern. Because as you pointed out, the same qualities they would WISH FOR in a father are the SAME QUALITIES they’ll want for a husband. They need to learn the VALUE of those thing and recognize them in OTHER men/boys, etc otherwise you end up with girls who don’t value marriage, fatherhood etc.
    I think it’s better to acknowledge these things even if they’re painful, rather than avoid them. Girls who don’t have a father in their lives could acknowledge a good home teacher, the father of a good friend, a grandfather or Uncle. Not to suggest than any of those could EVER make up for the need of having a father in the home, but just for them to open their eyes and acknowledge and recognize qualities of a good husband and father. They don’t have to say “you’ve been like a father to me” kind of stuff, and they certainly shouldn’t if it isn’t the case. But if they make a card and say “I see the way you hold your baby in Sacrament meeting” and I hear you bear your testimony and talk about how much you love being a father, and I think you’re a great example for the Young Men” or “Brother Smith, I see you leading your family in righteousness when I spend the night with Kristen and you invite me to have family scripture study and prayer with you. Thank you for being such a good example of a righteous father” and or “Grandpa, mom told me how you were always there for her ” etc etc etc then I think that helps them to open their eyes, to look for and appreciate the goodness of men that they will one day want in their own lives as husbands and fathers to their own children.
    As a side note– we have a 14 year old young man from another ward living with us for the summer. This is a boy that has spent several summers with us. My husband ordained him to the office of Deacon a couple years ago, and as a Teacher the Sunday before last.
    His mother is single and works full time. When school is out for the summer but mom has to keep working, he stays with us. When the boys have scout camp, he goes with my husband and son. This year, he’s actually staying with us as in, not going home at night or on the weekends. In fact, it’s very possible that we could end up being permanent legal guardians- maybe even full blown adoptive parents, depending on what his mother decides to do. (There are some pretty severe issues going on)
    This boy was just as excited as my own kids, to give Bill his father’s day present.
    The kids all signed the card, and when my husband got to this boy’s little note, he got very choked up and couldn’t read anymore– it said “You have always been the Dad I never had. I love you.”
    As I said earlier, I wouldn’t want a Young Woman saying such a thing to a male person in their life it wasn’t actually true.
    But if she got sick, and her home teacher or a friend’s father, the EQ president, the Bishop, etc, gives her a blessing (which normally, would have been done by her own father) then it would be wonderful for her to write a little note on Father’s Day or any day really, that said something like,
    “I know you’re not my father, but I’m so thankful that because of the gospel, I can count on worthy priesthood holders like you to bless me when I’m sick. ” Not only would it be good for HER, but think of how touched a home teacher or Bishop would be to receive such a note from a young girl who doesn’t have a father in her life to look to, for those things?

  • facethemusic June 20, 2008, 10:20 am

    I just thought about something–
    A few years ago, I was asked to give a talk on Mother’s Day about honoring righteous mothers.
    But I ended up giving my talk in two parts, first–honoring righteous mothers but then I explained that I felt impressed to also talk about honoring mothers who we might find difficult to “honor”. Personally, I related what I learned in my preparation to my relationship with my father. I’ll cut and paste that part of the talk here. Maybe something in it will help you find some peace.

    ” Sadly, Mother’s Day can be a painful one for those who don’t have a close relationship with their mothers;. for those whose mothers may have emotionally or physically abandoned or abused them, and for those whose mother’s personalities may be so contrary and difficult that feelings of love and affection were few. How does one honor a mother when feelings are so strained? I found some wonderful counsel on this subject.

    1971 Ensign, President Hinckley said, ” Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. The Lord gave no exceptions.”
    Respect for father and mother is respect for your own birth and life. Obedience to this commandment brings personal growth and lasting happiness.”

    Notice that Jehovah didn’t say “Honor them only if you personally perceive them as deserving it.” President Hinckley said “The Lord gave no exceptions.”

    In a book about the 10 commandments, a family therapist said “Honoring our parents does not mean we must agree with parental errors or emulate unrighteous examples. Parents, like their children, make mistakes. But those mistakes should not prevent children from respecting their parents ? righteous counsel and from supporting their parents in noble endeavors. Children need to pray for and forgive their parents despite their imperfections and, in some cases, their unrighteousness.
    We can honor parents, regardless of their mistakes, by acknowledging the good they have done, the good they do now, and by showing appreciation for the gift of life they have given to us. We honor them when we do what is right and when we set a good example for them, if necessary. When honoring is difficult, we need to remember that we show honor to our earthly parents when we honor our Heavenly Father first.”
    Another wonderful quote I found is this: “Since honor does not mean unquestioned obedience, we truly honor our parents when we hold them accountable to God’s law. If my parents abandon me, I will honor them by seeking, though not forcing, reconciliation. If my parents abuse me, I will honor them by praying for them, so that they might see their error– and by escaping, if possible, so that they cannot continue to sin upon me. If my parents are unfaithful, I will honor them by calling for righteousness and by being willing to forgive them when they seek my forgiveness. If they are breaking the law, and refuse to heed my warnings, I will honor them by calling the police. Making them accountable to the highest moral order is honoring them in that I esteem them capable of responsible action.”
    I also found this. “I honor my mother by forgiving her, overlooking her faults as much as I can, and seeing the goodness in her. I honor her by sharing my life with her. I honor her by listening to her advice, although I may not always take it. I honor her by taking the time to call and visit regularly, even though it may seem a sacrifice at times. I honor her by trying to correct the mistakes she made with me by not making the same ones with my children.
    Remember that one day, we will stand before our maker, and will have a complete recollection of our entire lives, and we will all discover, that we were neither perfect nor perpetually honorable either.”

    Tink– it seems to me that you’re already living by this, even if you didn’t realize it.

  • Tinkerbell June 22, 2008, 6:36 pm

    Thanks, Tracy. It’s been an interesting journey these past few years. I didn’t talk to my dad at all from about the age of 14 to 24. When I was 24, we started communicating again through email. I had heard in a conference talk a few years before that that if you can’t find forgiveness now, leave a little place in your heart, and welcome it when it comes. I realized in 2003 (when I was 25) that forgiveness had come. I had no malice or anger or ill-will towards my dad. It was liberating. I bore my testimony about it. Within a month or two, I was called to be YW Pres. The Bishop told me that he had been thinking about me, but he received the witness when he heard my testimony because she knew that I had things I could share with a lot of the YW in similar situations.

    Three years ago, we bought this house. My dad and his wife moved from CA to about 20 minutes away from my house. My mom and my little brother moved in. My little sister lives four hours away. It was really good for the whole family. We even had a family reunion in 2006 where all my siblings and their families came, and we spent part of the time with my mom and part with my dad. I bet that if we did one now, we could all be together. My dad and mom and I all went to my brother’s HS graduation together.

    My dad moved away a year ago, and now my mom is in UT. My sister is about to move to South Carolina, and my brother will go on a mission soon. We’ll probably move in a year or two. I am so amazed to look back over the last few years and see the Lord’s hand in bringing us all together in a way that our hearts can be healed. My dad refused to go to two brothers’ weddings because he didn’t want to see my mom, but I bet he will come to the last two.

    Despite all of that, what I have found for my dad is acceptance of who he is. He’s not a “father” in the sense that my husband is a father. He’s no patriarch for our family. I’ve given up hating him or being angry for all the things he is not. I can accept him for who he is. I don’t know that I’ve found “good” – that may be the next step.

  • kiar June 22, 2008, 6:50 pm

    Amazing! so glad that you have found that peace!

  • facethemusic June 22, 2008, 7:17 pm

    Totally understandable Tinkerbell. I think betrayal/abandonment by a parent is probably THE most difficult thing to forgive. The LAST people we expect to hurt us like that is our own parents.

  • davidson June 22, 2008, 9:03 pm

    My eyes are watering, and I want you to know, Face and Tink, that I admire your courage and your integrity in honoring parents who disappointed you.
    It says a lot about who you are. I hope the years will continue to heal you and repair the past in your hearts. You give me the incentive to be more understanding, more forgiving. I hope I can follow this feeling in my heart and your good examples.

  • nanacarol June 22, 2008, 10:24 pm

    Face-you have said a mouthfull!!! All I will say is Amen and I concur whole-hardly! I speak from experience!

  • facethemusic June 23, 2008, 9:12 am

    Thanks, Nana. Although…I ALWAYS say a mouthful….and more. One of these days I’ll learn how to be more concise. It bothers me that I can’t seem to say what I want to say, without turning it into a novel.

  • davidson June 23, 2008, 9:23 am

    And what, I ask, is wrong with a novel? Thorough description is a plus in a novel. I enjoy the things you write, Face, and I particularly enjoy the fact that you explain thoroughly how you feel and how you came to your feelings. I guess if people don’t have time to read a novel, they don’t have to!

  • jennycherie June 23, 2008, 9:24 am

    Posted By: davidsonAnd what, I ask, is wrong with a novel?


  • nanacarol June 23, 2008, 12:07 pm

    Well said jennycherie!!!

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