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I’m heading to France this summer and I’m taking a small photo of my dad standing in front of the Eiffel Tower during World War II. This Memorial Day we honor those who have served in war. We remember what they did. How they defended us. How they stood up for the helpless, the defeated. And now, many who have fought for our country are our elders. Their bodies are failing–and it’s our job to care for them and to give them the honor they deserve. Caregiving is more than meeting someone’s physical needs. It’s about remembering–all they are and have ever been.

Our fathers and grandfathers, brothers and mothers helped to stop Hitler–among others intent on destroying life. That’s amazing–and there are still atrocities going on in the world. People are still not free, and as flawed as we are, we still stand for justice. Maybe our government has mixed motives, but the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces have some pretty high ideals. We don’t want tyrants to take over, to kill and destroy, to obliterate the simple opportunity to live and work, marry and have families, eat and make a life for themselves and those they love.

So this weekend, look someone who has served our country right in the eye–and say thank you.

Ask them what it was like–to be “over there,” to be scared, to liberate a country, to ride in a tank. Give them the chance to tell their stories. Give them the opportunity to talk about it, for their chest to fill with pride. For them to relive their glory days. Get out those albums. Hang a flag. We’re far less patriotic than previous generations, and yet we are the ones reeping the benefits of their valiant efforts. Forget politics. Thank the men and women who protect us–who gave their time and for many, their limbs for something bigger than themselves.

I’m taking that photo of my dad to Paris with me. He was a sharpshooter and he helped to liberate France and Germany. He fought at the Battle of the Bulge. He stayed two more years to rebuild Paris. He absolutely loved serving our country–and now, he’s gone–but I won’t forget. I’ll tell his stories. I’ll visit Paris and Normandy. I’ll wear his dog tags.

~Carol O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother, available on Kindle

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It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.” — Anne Sexton

Yesterday, while shopping, our youngest daughter asked me if I missed my dad a lot–around Father’s Day.

I told her no. Not on Father’s Day. It’s happens at the oddest times– in the car when all is quiet–when I can’t fix something or I’ve had a fight with someone I love or want someone to be proud of me–that’s when the tears come.

It’s when I need somebody to sit beside. Not to talk to. Just to sit. When I need unsaid wisdom and silent, unconditional love–with no agendas, no expectations. That’s when I miss him. So I go outside and find a place to sit. I’ve sat beside him so many times it feels as if he’s still there. He is.

It’s my dad who taught me about caregiving–a fancy term for just being a family. I can remember that Sunday afternoons were for visiting family–we visited his sister, brothers, nieces–and if anyone were in the hospital, Faithful and tireless, he was a teddy when it came to family.

If your dad’s alive, call him, hug him, make him smile. Even the most tangled relationships have something to be thankful for. Find a way to celebrate. Life has a enough tragedies and I see it all as a giant algebra problem–I need to balance the sides–when something bad happens, I need to help make two good things happen in order to prove to the universe that it all adds up, that life is indeed, good.

Here’s a List of Great Dads Throughout History:

Marcus Aurileus, was the adoptive son of Annius Verus and is known as the “Philosopher-King.” The youth’s education embraced both rhetoric and philosophy; his manner was serious, his intellectual pursuits deep and devoted, so that the emperor Hadrian took an interest in him and called him “Verissimus,” “Most truthful.” He is considered one of Rome’s and history’s most thoughtful leaders.

Jose Marti is the father of freedom in Cuba.

Muhammed Ali is one of the greatest boxers in history and a loving father. Also, George Foreman who has a new book out about fathers where his greatest advice is “spend time” with your children–that’s your legacy.

J.R.R. Tolkien was a wonderful father who wrote many letters to his sons.

Albert Einstein was the father of modern science.

George Washington was the childless father of our country.

Nelson Mandela is the father of freedom in South Africa.

A.A. Milne based the character Christopher Robin in his Winnie-the-Pooh stories on his own son.

Jim Henson’s muppets and television show, Sesame Street, thrilled millions of children, including his own, who now carry on his tradition.

Martin Luther King, Jr. fathered American Civil Rights and believed that love, not violence, was the most powerful weapon.

Michael Jordan is a champion and a hero because he plays basketball with all his heart for his team, his family and his father.

Great Father Quotes:

 

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.” –Mark Twain

“It no longer bothers me that I may be constantly searching for father figures; by this time, I have found several and dearly enjoyed knowing them all.” — Alice Walker

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard.  Mother would come out and say, “You’re tearing up the grass.”  “We’re not raising grass,” Dad would reply.  “We’re raising boys.”  ~Harmon KillebrewHe didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.  ~Clarence Budington Kelland

A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.  ~Author Unknown

Father! – to God himself we cannot give a holier name.  ~William Wordsworth

Love and fear.  Everything the father of a family says must inspire one or the other.  ~Joseph Joubert

One father is more than a hundred Schoolmasters.  ~George Herbert, Outlandish Proverbs, 1640

Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!  ~Lydia M. Child, Philothea: A Romance, 1836

Henry James once defined life as that predicament which precedes death, and certainly nobody owes you a debt of honor or gratitude for getting him into that predicament.  But a child does owe his father a debt, if Dad, having gotten him into this peck of trouble, takes off his coat and buckles down to the job of showing his son how best to crash through it.  ~Clarence Budington Kelland

A father is always making his baby into a little woman.  And when she is a woman he turns her back again.  ~Enid Bagnold

Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.  ~Ruth E. Renkel

A father carries pictures where his money used to be.  ~Author Unknown

The father who would taste the essence of his fatherhood must turn back from the plane of his experience, take with him the fruits of his journey and begin again beside his child, marching step by step over the same old road.  ~Angelo Patri

My father, when he went, made my childhood a gift of a half a century.  ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

It is much easier to become a father than to be one.  ~Kent Nerburn, Letters to My Son: Reflections on Becoming a Man, 1994

The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity.  ~Jean Paul Richter

Any man can be a father.  It takes someone special to be a dad.  ~Author Unknown

The greatest gift I ever had
Came from God; I call him Dad!
~Author Unknown

I love my father as the stars – he’s a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart.  ~Adabella Radici

Two little girls, on their way home from Sunday school, were solemnly discussing the lesson.  “Do you believe there is a devil?” asked one.  “No,” said the other promptly.  “It’s like Santa Claus:  it’s your father.”  ~Ladies’ Home Journal, quoted in 2,715 One-Line Quotations for Speakers, Writers & Raconteurs by Edward F. Murphy

Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever.  ~Author Unknown

Sherman made the terrible discovery that men make about their fathers sooner or later… that the man before him was not an aging father but a boy, a boy much like himself, a boy who grew up and had a child of his own and, as best he could, out of a sense of duty and, perhaps love, adopted a role called Being a Father so that his child would have something mythical and infinitely important: a Protector, who would keep a lid on all the chaotic and catastrophic possibilities of life.  ~Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities

Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes.  ~Gloria Naylor

 

“None of you can ever be proud enough of being the child of SUCH a Father who has not his equal in this world-so great, so good, so faultless. Try, all of you, to follow in his footsteps and don’t be discouraged, for to be really in everything like him none of you, I am sure, will ever be. Try, therefore, to be like him in some points, and you will have acquired a great deal.” — Victoria, Queen of England

“That is the thankless position of the father in the family-the provider for all, and the enemy of all.” — J. August Strindberg

“It is a wise father that knows his own child.” — William Shakespeare

“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.” — English Proverb

“To be a successful father . . . there’s one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don’t look at it for the first two years.” — Ernest Hemingway

“A man knows when he is growing old because he begins to look like his father.” — Gabriel García Márquez

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” — Sigmund Freud

“I watched a small man with thick calluses on both hands work fifteen and sixteen hours a day. I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet, a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to speak the language, who taught me all I needed to know about faith and hard work by the simple eloquence of his example.” — Mario Cuomo

“Be kind to thy father, for when thou wert young,
Who loved thee so fondly as he?
He caught the first accents that fell from thy tongue,
And joined in thy innocent glee.”
Margaret Courtney

“If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right.” — Bill Cosby

“Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!” — Lydia M. Child

Great Father’s Day Links:

http://wilstar.com/holidays/fathers.htm

http://www.history.com/minisite.do?

Happy Daddy’s Day~

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon Kunati Publishers, www.kunati.com

www.motheirng-mother.com

Family Advisor on www.Caring.com

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