My name is Cynthia Rogers. I'm a Louisiana girl married to a Florida boy who loves being a homeschooling mom between the joys and demands of owning and running a restaurant with my husband and family. And occasionally, when time permits and inspiration strikes, I write.
Sometimes when you ask people why they love, care for or appreciate a person so much, instead of them rattling-off a laundry list of qualities and virtues they admire in said person, they go speechless. It’s like the gears in their brain suddenly grind to halt having to mentally muster up the words to describe what they cherish about someone. Most often the answer given after such a question is simply “I don’t know…I just do”. Now don’t get me wrong, other things get mentioned, too, like: she’s nice or funny or he’s punctual and hard-working etc. But these are not the hard things to describe. These are not the things that create the kind of bond with someone that would have you wanting to die if they were no longer here. No. Those kinds of things are harder to put a finger on-or more accurately, they are harder to put words on. Oh, but you can feel’em. And feelings, as we all know, are curiously hard to express with letters, that make words, that make sentences and so on. The stuff we love about someone sometimes can best be described by the way our world would be altered if they did not occupy it and fill it up with all that they are. The way we’d feel if they had never graced us with their presence. Sometimes to remember and understand what we love about the special people in our lives, all we have to do is imagine them not here. It is incredible how quickly someone’s worth springs to mind in gloriously living color when we give ourselves the gift of looking back, and seeing how certain people being in our lives made all the difference. And in some cases that difference is lifesaving.
Of all the many types of special people there are out there in this world, there are two (if you’re lucky) that will stand-out as a couple of THE most important-your mom and dad. If you were fortunate-enough to have both parents in your life, you are most blessed. If you had both parents and they truly loved you and cared for and supported you-you are doubly so. These days, though, many homes only have one parent. In most cases it is the mom. And while I could write an entire book on all the courageous single-mom’s who enter the parenting fray like the brave soldiers they so often have to be, this time, I am going to take a moment to elevate the dad’s.
Dad’s-good dads-the kind that love and fight for their children, are rare breed. If you had the great fortune of having a dad like this and I asked you if you loved him and why-would you be able to tell me? Or, would you stammer about trying to find the right words to capture the essence of someone who has done so much and been so much for you and to you? It would be hard. Not because there is too little to mention, but because there is just too much. Because where do you begin to explain how a single person’s existence and their choice to be in your life has impacted you?
Dad’s are such simple, basic creatures. Not ones for much fuss and fanfare. They are, due to their low-key nature, easier to overlook than Mom’s. Dad’s often disappear while it is still yet dark outside, and often don’t return until evening. They miss a lot while they are out providing for their family. Dad’s, the good ones anyways, carry burdens great and small not only on their shoulders but in their hearts and in their minds. They carry them up and many times they carry them away. Away from the shoulders, hearts and minds of those they holds most dear. And the next day, a dad will get up and do it all again. And when the long day is over and he has surveyed what’s his and has determined to give himself permission to let whatever didn’t get done today wait til tomorrow…a dad performs the most curious of transformations. Seamlessly and effortlessly dad’s just have a way of shedding their work-a-day skin and beneath it is nothing more than an overgrown child. Spontaneous wrestling matches and pillow fights ensue. Laughs and giggles erupt. Thumps and thuds thunder through the house despite a mom’s well-meaning protests. The house is alive with the uproarious spirit of a dad at play with his children. The joy produced. The stress released. The connections made cannot be caught or described. It just works it’s magic in these little moments. The kind of magic that there are no words for. You just know that you’d miss it if it ever stopped.
Just like you’d miss that feeling of safety and security if you didn’t know you had a dad in your life ready to face-down any danger or threat that dared come your way. Knowing there was a man called dad around who claimed to be your sole protector made the world a less-scary place to live. Out there in the land of the fatherless there was hunger, there was want, there was fear and threats around every corner and under every rock. But you having a dad meant those things were kept at bay. The outside world could blow and howl against you all it wanted, but a dad meant someone was always there standing between you and it. That feeling of security. Of knowing that you are watched over by someone who is ever on-guard for your sake is something that is not noticed. It’s just there. Like an invisible force field. Sometimes you get a glimpse of a person’s life who has no such knight in shining armor at the ready for them, and you see your great blessing in contrast to their great misfortune. Oh how they’d give every penny of what they had if they could, but for a moment, taste of the joys of being protected and cherished by a loving father, as you have. That feeling-more of a knowing, really, follows you everywhere you go. It brightens everything you do. Because you feel safe and watched-over by a dad you can conquer the world, without fear of it conquering you.
Now there’s something that you'd’ be hard-pressed to admit to appreciating about a dad, but inside you know it’s true. A dad’s sternness. A mom hollering at you across the house or half-way across the yard in that tone-the kind moms are known for, is enough to make the blood of even the most mischievous little devil run cold. A kid knows all levels of a moms vocal range and knows by it if it’s time to run home or if it’d be better to just run away. A kid knows that hell hath no fury like a mom who just found one of her favorite figurines broken and stashed away to hide the evidence. Few would disagree that there’s nothing worse than upsetting your mom. That is, unless it’s upsetting your dad. That’s not to say that dads get upset in a worse kind of way. No. It’s just that the effect it has on you is different. When your home with a mom most of the day, you get used to hearing her fuss and yell. After all, she’s the one there trying to keep everyone alive to see another day and having constant brushes with one close-call after another, one argument after another, one mess after another and so on. After a while…..you can predict what your mom is gonna say, and how she looks with her hands on her hips and that perturbed look on her face. You even get used to seeing the expression of fear and terror in her eyes from all the bruises, cuts, scrapes and trips to the ER. Moms, for better or worse, get a lot of face-time with their kids. And, for better or worse, the kids get familiar with seeing mom face the worst in them and around them, with a stiff upper lip and keep going. Moms are tough cookies in their own right, but by most accounts a dad would be the tougher of the two. However, Dads, even with all their many strengths, have their weakness.
Let me tell you what will bring a dad to his knees. Seeing one of his babies hurting, or struggling, or lost and confused or heading down the wrong path. Running into a mom who is distressed by something you did would be nothing new. It’s her face and voice that most often was there to catch you the moment you were starting to stray. But coming face to face with a dad’s eyes knowing the disappointment that’s waiting in them for you…it’s near unbearable. They way they pierce you. The way they search you. The hurt that your dad thinks isn’t showing, but it is. Nothing will crush your heart with more weight than seeing the sparkle in his eye for you dim because of something you’ve done-or didn't do that you should've. Dads typically don’t say much, compared to moms. Dads aren’t the ones sweating’ the small stuff. But man o man don’t a dad make up for it in his silence? His posture? The way he sighs and how you can tell by it if he’s mad, sad, or tired or all of the above?Oh how a dad’s sternness stops you in your tracks and makes you rethink everything you thought was a good idea up until that point? And isn’t that the beauty of it? The fact that that is exactly what it is supposed to do? And ain’t it something, how those same eyes that were capable of striking your heart with the kind of conviction that made you tremble inside for fear of what the outcome might be, are the same eyes that look back at you with such a tenderness that you wonder how a single person could be so fierce one second and so compassionate the next?
No child (of any age) likes to be caught, corrected, lectured or disciplined by anyone-not even by a loving dad. But when that fateful day arrives when you’ve grown-up. When childhood switches from the thing you wish you could escape, to the thing you wished you could go back to-or at least took your time enjoying more while it was your’s, you will thank God you had a dad who did more than just play catch with you, push you on a swing, and teach you how to ride your bike. You’ll thank God you had a man in your life who had the guts to take hold of you by the shoulders in the middle of a fit of finding yourself and stare you in the eyes and tell you he loves you too much to get out of your way without a fight. No, a dad’s sternness is not pleasant, but few things that are lifesaving ever are.
And there it is…a whole bunch of words about a person whose value is beyond describing. All this and the best I can do to sum up an answer to my own question is that Dads are lifesavers. Lifesavers that do their saving in the most ordinary of ways. Undetectable. Subtly. Oh the genius of it is so perfect. As he provides for you, supports you, laughs with you (sometimes at you) plays with you, shows up for you, hugs you, back-pats you, high fives you, lectures you, glares at you, applauds you, puts his foot down in front of you, stops you, surprises you, hopes with you, talks with you and prays with you….he is saving you. And if you receive it, cherish it and appreciate it…this gift of a good Dad (that is becoming more and more rare, these days) you will be well into adulthood before you’re ever hit with the sobering realization of all the many things having him (a good dad) has saved you from. But, for now, you get to just be one of the lucky ones.