Sister Denise’s “expert” Father’s Day reflections
I usually accept whatever web assignments I’m given from Diane Weidenbenner, our director of marketing and communications. I always regret that I say “yes” to writing the Father’s Day reflection. I feel it’s like me, a never-married, celibate person commenting on marriage. What do I know about marriage or fatherhood?
So, I went to three fathers on our SP staff and asked for their reflections. My three experts are Bob Flesher (manager of Utilities), Paul Beel (digital media/web developer, Mission Advancement office) and Steve Ackman (executive director of Financial Operations).
All three were immediately gracious in saying yes to my request. I asked each person these two questions: (1) what is the best part of being a father, and (2) what is the hardest part of being a father?
Bob shared with me that “there’s so much that is good about being a father” but he thinks what stands out for him is watching his four children change and grow into adulthood. He loves watching them become themselves; develop interests and their own thoughts and ways of doing things. As a father of four and a grandfather of six, he loves “the chaos when we’re all together, when we’re having fun together.”
As for the hardest part of being a father, Bob admitted it was “letting them go.” When the first of his two daughters married, he told me “I grieved for, missed my daughter for almost a year.” Bob loves his son-in-law and is happy they are together but he still had this response. It took him by surprise; but it helped him prepare himself for the second daughter’s marriage.
Paul Beel responded that “it’s the entire experience” of being a dad that’s his favorite part. Having said that, Paul did narrow it down to a few things like having his son Blake say “Dad” for the first time. Even more specifically, Paul reflected: “I think one of my favorite parts is being able to show my son how to do various things. Like right now he is very interested in playing basketball … so I’ve been out in the driveway with him every night showing him how to shoot, dribble, play defense, and pass. Even when I don’t quite feel like it, he asks me every night to play basketball with him. For him to look up to me and ask me to teach him these things and then to be able to go out and play with him and do it alongside of him is one of the best feelings in the world.”
Of course, there’s the other side of the coin – the challenging parts of being a dad. For Paul, “the most difficult part is worrying about them being safe all the time. Right now, it’s a little easier, because we can keep him with us most of the time. But you still worry about their safety … The bond and love is so strong between us, I cannot imagine something happening to my son. I think it will be even worse when he becomes a teenager. How to keep him away from the bad things in life is a huge worry. I constantly pray that his guardian angel will take care of him and protect him when I’m not around.”
Added to concerns for safety, Paul added this as a hard part of parenting: “… wondering if you are teaching him the right way in life. I want to make sure I teach him everything I can possibly think of so he grows up to be a good person and has a good life. Sometimes you question yourself if you are doing the right things, doing enough or teaching him correctly.”
Finally Steve – father and grandfather. Like the good CPA he is, he gave me a very precise and heartfelt list. Like Bob and Paul, Steve reveals himself to be a tender father.
Steve’s favorite part of being a father:
1. Watching my kids grow up to be successful in what is important to them (hopefully making a difference in the world).
2. Watching them excel in activities which I could never do or was not very good at.
3. Being a grandfather, sending them home hopefully before the first dirty diaper.
4. Having them call me for advice and not money.
5. Having friends telling me how good my kids are and how proud I should be.
6. Getting smarter with age in the eyes of my kids as I get older after being told I didn’t know anything in my younger years.
The most difficult part of being a father.
1. Having to punish my children when they got out of line.
2. Watch my kids do things I don’t particularly approve of but being quiet because they need to learn life lessons on their own.
3. Paying for those weddings while giving away my girls.
4. Not talking to my kids as often as I’d wish because they have their own lives and commitments.”
I’ve had a wonderful time listening to, reading and reflecting on the experience of fatherhood as seen through the eyes and hearts of our SP staff partners Bob, Paul and Steve. I hope you do as well as you read this. Better yet, why not ask your dad the two questions? Ask a favorite uncle, close friend, your godfather.
Together, let us praise Providence for those fathers whose lives are shaped, enriched and changed by their children and their love of their children. Let us remember as well those children who do not know that love whose lives our shaped by its absence. May our love help heal that wound.
Happy Father’s Day to all fathers! God bless each of you! You are in the prayer of the Sisters of Providence.
Sister Denise Wilkinson
My Dad was president of the St. Vincent DePaul Society in our Parish when we were kids in Cincinnati [near the campus of the University of Cincinnati]. Where his responsibilities as a Vincentian took him, we kids were always close behind.
As he aged, my Dad became a father figure for many, many lonely & confused college kids who were experiencing their first encounters on living away from their families. Our home, especially the front porch, often had a college kid or two visiting & spending time with my Dad.
My Dad knew the homeless people…at Cincinnati’s bus stops or Downtown area by name & often shared what minimal change or money lined his wallet.
At our Church (St. Monica…now St. Monica-St. George), my Dad was a regular usher & greeter to all.
When my Dad passed a few years ago from pancreatic cancer, my Dad’s friend (Sr. Lucy…I don’t know what order of nuns she belongs to), researched my Dad’s name & gave a brief talk at his mass of resurrection
My Dad’s name was/is “Cletus’. “It’s a very unique name”, people would always comment when we were growing up. No one knew anyone else named Clete…but we were always proud to be “Clete’s kids.”
Sr. Lucy had researched my Dad’s name & discovered that it originated from the Greek word “Cleatos”…which means “The Glory of God”. Sr. Lucy also added that we need not do extensive research or travel when looking for God or His Glory. She theorized that God hides in the everyday person …like my Dad…Cletus.