He’s often the man you call on when things go wrong — the occasional flat tire, the overheated engine, the busted water pipe or, if you’re younger, for the embedded splinter, the black eye and the bee sting.
And, he’s often the one you look up to, watching his example, trying to mimic it as you set your own.
You might wear his tie or try to slip tiny feet into far larger shoes as a child, but as you grow older, you try to emulate his movements, his smile, his attitude and, indeed, try to fill those shoes again, still big and still difficult to wear as comfortably as he does.
We want to be like him in every way because he is, without question, a hero in our eyes, our father, our daddy … always our friend.
And that’s just part of what makes fathers so special.
It’s also the way they smile at you when you’ve done something special, or look at you tenderly when they realize you’re having a bad day.
In their quiet, unassuming way, fathers are watchful and caring, often standing in the shadows allowing mothers to do all those things that mothers do best. But dads do their fare share of mothering too, just in more covert ways that hardly get noticed by anyone except the person receiving the helping hand, the protective glance, the guiding words.
Our fathers are the strong ones — the tough guys who tell us to stand firm, to keep our chin up, to never let anyone take advantage of us.
They are the firm providers who teach us about responsibility, earning our way and learning to be strong on our own.
But while they want us to fight our own battles, live our own lives and follow the road so diligently paved for us, they will be our staunchest supporters, our quickest defenders and our most steady shoulder when they are needed.
You usually find fathers just a few feet away from the maddening crowd at ball games and dance recitals, at PTA meetings and doctor’s offices, but you know they are there, and you know, if called upon, they’ll be there in an instant.
Fathers have baited our fishing hooks, caught our most lopsided curve balls and steadied our wavering bicycles, never once laughing at our attempts.
When we’ve needed them, they’ve been right there; and when we’ve needed room to grow and spread our wings, they’ve stepped back and given us space.
As children we looked up to them as the person we most wanted to be like; as adults we can only hope to have filled one-half the shoes they have worn.
Our hats are off to them all, fathers who are truly parents and those who have taken on that role. And our prayers are with you. You are heroes in our eyes forever, and you are truly one of God’s most special gifts, one we are very thankful for.