A Father’s Impact

A Fathers ImpactIt’s been a month since my mother passed away. Reflecting on her life is still a daily occurrence for me. Memories are triggered by every item of hers I’ve had to go through when determining its future. Stacks of photos slow me down the most, as I relive the moments that I participated in.

Few photos exist of her father. He died when mom was too young. One person told me she was 14 and another said 9. Both ages sadden me.

My dad died when I was 19. His death made a lasting impact on me. It forever changed the direction of my life. My mom must have had a similar experience, but with a more harsh reality being raised by a single mom in the early 1900’s. I can’t help but wonder how important a dad is to have impacted his family while present and in death.

Tim Ritchey is a father and a dear friend that I admire. During this time of reflection, he posted a note on Facebook that brought a warm smile to my face and trepidation to my soul. He posted…

Fatherhood Challenge Dare:
I was nominated to publish a pic that makes me feel happy to be a father (so I did 19) I am going to tag men that i feel are fabulous fathers. If you are one of them awesome dads, copy the text and paste this to your wall along with picture and tag other fathers. THIS SHOULD NOT TAKE ALL DAY FELLAS!!!!!!!! If I chose you, I chose an outstanding human being, and I am pleased to call u my friend.

I was honored when he called me an “outstanding human being” and “I am pleased to call u my friend.” Coming from a man that quickly earns respect from everyone he meets was a great pat on the back. I felt affirmed.

The trepidation that soon flowed through my bones was not so pleasant. Pictures popped into my head that would work well for a response, but they were all in storage. Having no pictures to express how happy I was to be a father made me question what kind of a father I had been.

I knew what kind of a son I had been because my dad spoke truthfully to mom over the years. Many hints for improvement and compliments of success made it to my ears. I was very thankful to hear my mom tell me just two weeks before my dad died how proud he was of me and how much fun he had when I was around. Dad even loved my work ethic and all the help I gave him fixing up the small cottage we enjoyed.

A few months ago I saw the impact my ex-father-in-law had on my kids. I also remembered all he meant to me, as he was in my life longer than my dad. Yet, my dad’s impact was still greater. It took me years to get past his death because of the values he instilled in me. Not to mention all those times when he was there for me.

I’ll never forget the time I was walking around in a cloud of amazement because of Kim Jones. We were in fourth grade and she was the most fun and beautiful girl in school. We played dodge ball together, built forts in the woods next to school, and played house.

One day when my dad was getting dressed for work, I came into his bedroom to chat about something very personal. I shared how there was a constant stirring inside my belly whenever I thought about Kim. He told me it was because she was a really important friend and made me happy. I agreed.

I asked, with a wide-open vulnerable heart, if I should “go steady” with her. Dad put me at ease by saying that going steady was for people in high school. But he also pointed out that since she was important to me, I could signify it by getting her a friendship ring.

With my dad’s blessings I went to the jewelers and bought a really cool friendship ring. It was really expensive (I think it cost about $8 back then), but was worth the ability to express my feelings through the gift. Kim loved it and said she’d always treasure it. Two weeks later her dad was transferred and she moved away.

I’ll never forget how my dad protected my feelings.

But what about me as a father?

I never had the opportunity to tell my dad what a great job he did in guiding me through that highly vulnerable and emotional time. Nor did I know if I had participated in such a powerful moment when I did the right thing for my kids. The only thing I had confidence in was how well my kids turned out.

My kids are godly, intelligent, self-aware, worthy of respect, leaders, great public speakers, considerate, good listeners, creative, and know how to share great stories. But does that mean the impact I made as a father was a good one?

I love my kids even on those days when they don’t like me. I’ve made lots of mistakes in parenting, but I’ve also seen great results from the qualities I’ve instilled that help them in life. But does the sum of averages adorn me with a ribbon for being a good father over all?

I guess we’ll have to wait and see what’s engraved on my tombstone. In the meantime, I’m working hard to figure out how to be an even better grandpa. After all, grandpas make a great impact in their grandkid’s lives too.

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Facebook — A Modern Day Memoir

MemoirsI was emotionally stirred this morning, as I read seven accounts of writers experiencing the effects of having written their memoirs. The authors bared their soul to the world and received a form of validation in the process. The artful pleasures that illuminated their past were tastefully raw and revealed the human condition in a universal manner that all readers easily understood.

The one comment or point of revelation shared by all seven was that of making choices. In reducing ones life to the page, a selection of entries were decided upon. The chosen stories were filtered for entertainment value and truth. A morsel of revelation was also present. A modern day “ahha” moment, if you will.

I contemplated if I were capable of sharing the intimate parts of my private life publicly. Would I be condemned or praised for sharing my reaction from a conversation with Mrs. Van Husen, a gold medal Olympian from Germany who became a publicist for Adolph Hitler? Or, in our politically correct society would I have the courage to share the internal thoughts I debated in my childhood, while holding a woman’s swimsuit in my hands after talking with a gay neighbor?

Having grown up in the world of theatre and motion pictures, I’ve had more experiences within our liberal world than most would see in a lifetime. The stories would certainly shock the weak minded and amaze the intelligent with insights into the human condition. But, few would expect to learn, that with all the freedoms and generous offers afforded me, I chose to live a conservative life.

It’s all about choice. Not tendencies or leanings, but decisions.

We are free to Facebook what we want others to know about us. Some write too much, giving us no room to contemplate the depths of their soul. Others write little for fear they won’t be accepted. Then there are those who write only the positive, trying to make us think they are perfect, removing themselves from any form of humanity.

Facebook is like memoirs. Every entry is a choice to reveal something about ourselves. We can chose to entertain or bore our readers. We also chose how vulnerable we’re willing to be — Demonstrating our true self or creating a false image to hide behind.

The seven authors were courageous and opened my eyes to the power of revelation through vulnerable sharing. It made me wonder how many followers a person might have on Facebook if they honestly shared their thoughts and feelings. Would their numbers rise incrementally or drop rapidly into the basement? Would the person be praised for their comments this year and be haunted by it twenty years from now?

I have learned that the more tolerance community requires, the more judgmental those around us become. When the Ten Commandments guided our nation, camaraderie was present because we all had fallen short. Listening to each other’s experiences and stories gave us insights into life that helped us fight the good fight. But, today we hesitate to hear those who may disagree with our position or beliefs, for fear we may not be able to defend our perspective with persuasion and dignity.

The risk of revealing our true self is greater today than forty years ago. Yet society needs truth more than ever. Unfortunately there are few willing to risk their future in order to share elements from their dysfunctional life for the sake of humanity. Instead we are entertained by extremists who seek only attention, rather than the common good that benefits us all.

Today, the greater the spectacle the more followers. But our hearts need the truth. We need some imperfect person to remind us of our humanity, while instilling hope into our lives. We need real people to live as an open book. Then we will have the courage to decide what revelation from our life is worth sharing in our modern memoir published on Facebook.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers