Thoughts about fatherhood
To the editor:
If someone asked me to decide who among all the people I know about in the history of civilization I would like to have dinner with, I would have a lot to think about. “Anyone?” I might ask.
“Absolutely anyone in the last 5,000 years?” Jesus Christ? Isaac Newton? Mickey Mantle? Maybe Anne Frank, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Audrey Hepburn? I would have to think about it, but I know what my answer would be. What it always will be to that question ... I would say, “My father, of course.”
Winston Churchill famously gave the same answer to the same question many years ago. It is a surprising answer in some ways. His dad was really hard on him at times. I think I know why he answered the way he did. He knew his father loved him and it took years for him to realize what his father did for him and what he meant to him. It took being a father himself to realize how much his father had given him.
It is more important to be a good father than it is to have wealth, status, fame, power or even great talent. The influence of a good father reaches into the future, influencing his sons when they become fathers, influencing all the future generations of the family. Long after a father is gone his sons are giving their sons what they were given, teaching their sons what they were taught and providing the invaluable example their sons need, too. Long after a father is gone his influence remains.
I know a guy who plays soccer with his two sons in the park — just a soccer ball, a patch of grass and their father. Yet as they play, I can see the sons feel loved and cared for — they know how important they are to their father. It is obvious to me that even when they argue with their dad, they will be using him as the model for their own ideas of what fatherhood means when they have children of their own. Catch with your dad is better than golf lessons at a country club any day. Remember “Field of Dreams?”
If I asked this friend of mine in the park with his sons three questions: is there anyplace you would rather be? Anyone you would rather be with? Anything you would rather be doing? I know what his answer would be to each question. That is what makes a good father.
I think of my dad every day. There isn’t a decision I make that doesn’t consider his example in my life. He was the kindest man I have ever known, and probably will ever know. I hope I may have reminded some of you of your dads. They deserve our respect and gratitude always.
— Jim Turner, Fairfield