June 2021

George, Fred and John Henry Meisenheimer. photo by Matt Cornelius
George, Fred and John Henry Meisenheimer. photo by Matt Cornelius

This is the month we get to celebrate our dads, not just for the roles they play, but for the men they really are. The importance and challenges of fatherhood can sometimes be overlooked. The role of the father in American society is constantly evolving. Traditionally, fathers have shouldered the cultural image of breadwinner, disciplinarian and authority figure. How often do you remember hearing your mother say, “Just wait until your father gets home!” to get you back on the right track? Our culture has relied on fathers to fulfill a difficult role; they must be detached, but intimate; earn the wage, but be present; be compassionate, but the disciplinarian.

My dad was fresh out of high school when I was born. As a parent, I can reflect and value all the sacrifices he made to step up while simply trying to survive himself. Now in my late 30s, I find the beauty of getting to grow up together and I am so proud of where he is today. I also had a wonderful stepdad who entered my life when I was in Kindergarten. He took me in and treated me as his own. Even though I was not biologically his daughter, he did not miss the opportunity to coach my softball team, watch me cheer or sit through a band concert. Both dads made me who I am today, and I am very grateful for them. They taught me the value of hard work as I watched both of them grind it out to achieve goals and provide for their families. My lucky streak continued when I married Fred, and I have been able to watch him absolutely nail it in the dad role with our boys.

I remember before Fred and I even had children, we would have projects around the house and I would often ask him, “How do you know that?” His response was always the same, “It is in the ‘boy book.’” I would roll my eyes and say, “whatever,” annoyed he would not just give me a straight answer. Now that our boys are nine and ten years old, I get to witness the mysterious contents of the “boy book” being passed on, a task he takes seriously in his role as dad. Almost daily he is teaching and leading them with knowledge they will use through this life. Now I understand that while the “boy book” was never actually a book, its invaluable lessons were taught by the time Fred spent with his father and grandfathers. It really is one of the sweetest things to see life’s transition from one generation to the next.

I am not sure I would have believed you if you had told me all we would have to face together in our almost fourteen years of marriage, but I am grateful that I get to go through it all with Fred by my side, and have support from my dad.

Take the chance this Father’s Day to honor the men who have invested so much time, energy and heart into you and your family. As George Strait says, “Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then, it’s a love without end, amen.”


 

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