Happy Father’s Day!

I am glad that there is a Father’s Day. Way back when there was only a Mother’s Day in May, I always wondered what happened to the “fathers”? Why wasn’t there a day when we honor our fathers? After all, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for our fathers!

My father, Jarvis Russell, died in the early ‘70s when I was already married and living in the Philippines. It was a shock to receive a telephone call from my mother saying that Dad had had a massive heart attack and died on the way to the hospital. It was doubly shocking since we children didn’t know he had a heart problem and therefore, were not prepared in any way for his untimely demise. I was devastated that I had not had time to tell him how much I loved him before he left us.

My father was a true farmer, even as his father was before him. He taught me to love the land with all its beauty and ugliness, with its promise of harvest and the changing of seasons. I grew up on our small family farm in the mountains of Vermont, USA, and as the eldest child was responsible for helping Dad care for our small herd of 20 dairy cows, the younger calves, and other assorted animals. I also helped during the summer haying season when the field grasses were cut, baled and stacked into our barn to be used as feed for the animals during the long winter months. Although the work was hot, sweaty and constant, I enjoyed caring for the animals and being out in the fields with Dad working side by side.

He taught me to be responsible for what I did or had failed to do, to always do the best I could, to be creative in looking for new and better ways to do things. He instilled in me the virtues of hard work, of honesty and integrity, of finishing what I had begun, of finding something to like or even love about whatever I was doing.

Dad had a wry sense of humor, too; he could find something to laugh about in most circumstances. His temper flared when he got angry but he never raised a hand to us kids or to Mom; he would go outdoors and chop up wood for our furnace, or do some other physical task to work off his anger.

In other words, he was human with his good and not-so-good sides. As a father, he was the best one … at least to me. He was a man of few words but I know that he felt deeply about many things. I treasure my memories of him.

Please don’t wait until your father passes on to begin remembering the good things about him. Today is the best time to tell him that you love him and appreciate the many things that he has done for you. No matter how strict or how much of a disciplinarian a father is, he still wants to be loved. At least for this one day of every year we need to tell him in words and actions how much we love him. And try to repeat telling him you love him even if it isn’t Father’s Day… he is still your father every day of the year, isn’t he?

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