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Four Years at the Mount

Senior Year

To give praise where it is due

Sarah Muir
MSM Class of 2018

(6/2017) A quote by Billy Graham states, "A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, yet one of the most valuable assets in our society." Because of this and the approaching holiday I propose to sing, praise, and notice fathers. Who are they, what are they do and what makes a "good" one.

The idea of Fatherís Day has a long history dating back to Saint Josephís Day (March 19) during the Middle Ages. However, it found its way to America at the beginning of the 20th century. Unlike Motherís Day, which has roots dating all the way back to the pre-Civil War America, Fatherís Day was first received with lukewarm indifference. It first began in West Virginia as a day to commemorate the 362 men who had perished in a coal mining explosion the previous December. With the insistence and support of Sonora Smart Dodd, it was celebrated as a holiday in Washington. She was raised by her father, a civil war veteran and single parent of six children and through her efforts the first celebration was held at a YMCA in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910.

The idea spread slowly around the country, being recognized by President Wilson in 1916 and later in 1924 President Coolidge advocated that Fatherís Day be observed by the states. The holiday was found to have garnered less support than its counterpart, Motherís Day. This was due in part to the sentimentality built around mothers and it was not until after World War II however when Fatherís Day was widely accepted and not until 1972 when it was declared a federal holiday.

It is easy to take good parents for granted and even though I try not to, it happens. We can sometimes forget the sacrifices our parents made; the blood, sweat, and tears that they gave to raise us. That is why we carve out one day of the year for them. One day to recognize the unconditional love of a parent, maybe with a bouquet of flowers and a heartfelt card. I am blessed to have the examples I have in my own life, between both my grandfathers and my dad I find myself startled at the high bar that they have set in their wake. For girls it is a fact of life that a father is a template by which all other men are compared. My father is among the most generous and most wonderful that have ever breathed, which is a bias I share with my sister.

To us, he has been a protector, a teacher and an adviser (even though we do not always take the advice given). Both of us have known a father that has done anything and everything for his daughters and even more for his wife. Throughout our lives we both have had a model of what a father and a husband should be. However, I find that father can be too cold a definition because I know that forever and always he is our daddy. There is a cross-stitch sampler that my mom made as a teenager for her own father which reads, "Anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a daddy." He has made my sister and I stronger, smarter and more faith-filled individuals.

Fatherís Day also gives an opportunity to celebrate the father figures in our lives; men who we look up to and respect because of their generous and paternal nature. I remember a priest one time remarked about the paradigm of the holy family and recalled how Fatherís Day also recognizes those that are our family in everything, but blood. God gives many examples on how to be, but Joseph can be overlooked. In him we see an example of fatherly love that has little to do with blood. He gives the protection, security, and unconditional love of a parent to a child that is not his own.

Fathers are important and knowing them and having stories about them is something to be treasured. My grandmother talks of her father a lot and of how close they were. She speaks often of what they would laugh at together, or how they would disagree over baseball players, how he would leave a shaker of salt by the garden in case anyone fancied a fresh tomato. Family histories, these small little stories breathes life into these memories.

I have been thinking about fathers a lot recently; fathers and luck. Mostly how lucky I am to have the father figures in my life. I have no one answer for "how to be a good father," mostly because I am not (nor will ever be) one myself. I do not think there is a rule book or manual that can help navigate the tumultuous waters of fatherhood. I am sure that any dad could tell you that fatherhood is a baptism by fire, figure-it-out-as-it-happens, type of life. So, this Fatherís Day, after the hallmark card and gift certificate and cake, remember that it does not nor should it end there. Every day we should recognize the men in our lives that have been there for us through thick and thin, with the unconditional love only a dad can have.

Read other articles by Sarah Muir