When I was 18 months old my dad died, suffering a massive heart attack as he danced with my mom at a Duke Ellington concert. That was 60 years ago! So my mom was my dad too. As I was growing up, I always found myself gravitating to strong, male role models. There were so many great leaders in my schools and professional career who taught me so much. One of them is Jack Levine, who is also one of my favorite authors. His latest essay about “Dad” is one I want to share part of with you as we begin our celebrations of our fathers and Father’s Day next Sunday.
“Some of us never really knew our fathers – lost to war, alcohol abuse, abandonment, or natural causes. Some feared their father’s anger or coldness but deeply respected his hard work and dedication to family. Some men live up to what’s expected of them, others stumble, yet few do not try to do their best.
I implore you to think of the life lessons we’ve learned – good or bad – from our fathers. Let’s honor them by emulating the good, overcoming the bad, and sending a signal to our children, in both word and action, that they are valued. Foster and adoptive Dads are among the most special people because their gifts are the most timely in the life of a child. Opening our doors and hearts to children whose needs are great and emotions fragile takes a certain blend of kindness and leadership. How many of us have the courage and commitment to accept another’s child as our own?
Perhaps you can choose to volunteer to read to a child, visit a lonely elder, or send a note to a long-lost friend. What better honor than to give of ourselves in the name of those who gave so much to us?”