Happy Father’s Day! Ode to 5 Men

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Ode to the father of my children.  When you proposed to me all those many years ago, you told me you wanted me to be the mother of your children and that you wanted to be the father of my children.  How prophetic and forethinking you were.  I have loved sharing these 5 children with you.  You were a "daddy" in every sense to them in all the raising years.  You never relegated child-rearing to me alone, but changed diapers and wiped noses and listened to hours of nighttime prayers of blessings over neighbors' dogs and aunts and uncles and world peace and whatever else small children find of concern to share with God.  You got down on the floor and taught the kids Bible stories with visual aids ( – Star Wars guys representing the disciples, or rolled and fringed newspapers representing palm branches).  Your life has been lived to bless the children God gave you.  I know of no prouder father or grandfather.  I know of no other man who loves his family more deeply or forces as many people to watch videos of his kids leading worship.  You are truly awful with devotion!  I am so glad I got to come along for this ride. (pictured above: Dave and all 5 on Father's Day 1987)

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Ode to my father.  (pictured: me with my mom and dad, 1960)  For Christmas, my dad "filled out" a book for me, A FATHER"S LEGACY – A Lasting Heritage for Your Children, Your LIfe Story in Your Own Words (J Countryman, $12.99 SRP).  I love this book with my whole heart because of all the understanding and insight into who I am it is giving me. The book is pretty cool because it divides questions over the course of the 12 months of a year, questions a child might ask a parent, and my dad answered them especially for me.  This book has been part of my cherished reading for 2007.  I keep it handy and read about this man, who is so integral to my very existance, often.  It tells me his favorites: scripture, food, leisure activity (Philippian 1.2, Mexican, golf in Ft. Meyers, FL).  It tells me the answer to things like: What was your favorite room in your house as a boy?  And why?  And – did you ever get into fights with other kids?  He did – several times, but a most memorable one was with Harley Race, who was later a USA wrestling champ.  Dad described it as 15-20 minutes of "fist-fighting" anger.  He doesn't record it in the book he sent me, but family lore says dad beat the stuffing out of Harley Race at that time.

There are questions about which teachers influenced him the most and what were his childhood fears.  He answers inquiries into his first kiss (everyone – the gril and her sisters and his friends – were expecting it so he complied) and when he fell for mom.  He answers about the things he'd do differently and what he knows to be true about life.  His description about his favorite Bible hero, Elijah, is, in so many ways, self-descriptive. 

Not all of the questions and answers are world-shaking, but they are all pieces to a complex puzzle.  Everyone should get their father a book like this so he can say all the little things we may forget to ask and will one day wonder about.

"What would you change about my childhood if you could?" is a question the book posed on behalf of the receiving child.  My breath caught in my throat for a moment and I read his answer

"I would be a much better father.  I would hold you and tell you how special you are and how proud I was of you.  I would be there for you to come crying to and kiss your tears away.  I wouldn't be gone most nights on pastoral calls because I would remember my ultimate discipleship is in my wife and children.  I would be more lenient and understanding about dress codes and entertainment.  I would try to emulate my heavenly Father's love for me more for you – because you have been a wonderful daughter…"

And you are a wonderful dad and getting better all the time!  By the end – I think you'll be perfect!  I love that I am your daughter and I recognize that the song in my heart and all the singing I did that you described in this book – came from the song of your heart.  Thanks for the book, dad, and the music –  and thanks for the final words in the book of advice you wanted me to remember, for this will carry me all the way to my end: "Make Jesus Lord of all."  Happy Father's Day, dad!

Ode to my children who are fathers.  How is this possible?  They grow up and have children of their own! 

Tristan and Stephanie gave us our very first grandchild.  We all have to laugh at them a little bit because when they got married, they weren't going to have any children.  So, yes, we're smug – and so delighted they changed their minds, because they have now given us THREE beautiful grandbabies!  And Tristan is such a gentle and loving father.  You can actually see the love his kids have for him when they look at him.  Tris, you are a great daddy – I really admire this in you.  (pictured, Dave with Hunter and Tristan with Gavin, with Uncle Rocky, Dec. 2004.  Guini and Gemma weren't here, yet)

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Dave and Tara produced Hunter Magoo and that boy not only adores his father, but respects his word, his look, his instruction.  This will be a blessing for Hunter all the days of his life.  The trust Hunter has in his daddy when Dave thows him 12 feet in the air (I know because our living room goes to 15 feet and Hunter is pretty close to the top) and catches him ("Again, daddy, again!) is a sight to behold.  Hunter trusts Dave because he can.  You are an amazing daddy, Dave.

Rocky.  Uncle Rocky.  He is adored and loved by all dogs and small children.  They follow him like a pied piper even if he doesn't notice and is basically dragging them as they cling to his ankles.  So, here it is Father's Day and I bring up Rocky.  Why, you ask?  Because we just found out that Rocky is going to be daddy!!!  Yea!  It's true!  Rocky and Jovan have just let us know and we are excited.  Congratulations, Rocky – on becoming the father of Jovan's children.

Happy Father's Day to my 5 most important men.  Happy Day, my sons, my papala and my lover!

3 thoughts on “Happy Father’s Day! Ode to 5 Men

  1. Wow honey! I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face. And if you know me, that is not unusual. Thank you so very much for drawing back and slamming that stamp on my forehead: APPROVED I have an awesome wife and awesome kids and extrodinary grandkids, and anyone would say so! xxoo me

  2. “A wonderful time was had by all…” All writing books and seminars will tell you that that is not a good way to begin any type of story. It’s almost as bad as: “It was a dark and stormy night”. However, in this particular case, it is accurate. My Father’s Day was blessed and a lot of fun. Amidst boiling pots of taco meat and cilantro rice, I donned my red chef’s apron, extracted my favorite tongs from the drawer and fried up massive amounts of corn and flour tortillas. A variety of celebrations were occurring simultaneously, Dave’s birthday, Tredessa’s birthday and Father’s Days for me, Dave, Tristan and now, Rocky, even though the bun is still in the oven, or in our case, the sopapilla  is still in the deep fryer. We ate and laughed and unwrapped presents and tickled and kissed and hugged and it was a day that will go down in the annuls of Rhoades history as a gigantic gathering. We culminated the evening by watching a movie outside! Through the advances of modern technology, we hooked up my laptop to a projector and manufactured a large screen to show the movie, Inner Space on the side of the house! Our light was the light of love, and Tiki torches, our nectar was the scent of life and the aroma of mosquito repellent; and our food was the food of…cheesecake and rice crispy treats. So all in all, it was a good day, and…a wonderful time was had by all…

  3. I have tears, too, Dave!  As the other daughter, I connect with those father/daughter thoughts & feelings.  I, too, am proud to be our Dad's daughter, Jeanie.  In fact, I am proud of our whole family of men who have been good daddies, faithful in rearing their children.  You know how I know?  By looking at all of my fun, cool, witty, talented, loving, & God-fearing neices & nephews!  Every time I'm around them, I know how great their moms & dads are!

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