Since I have talked about everyone else in my family, it would not be right to let Fathers Day go by without talking about my daddy.
He was a perfect example of living Stewardship in his everyday life.
We moved to Oceanside in 1959. We immediately registered here at St. Mary’s. Daddy joined the Holy Name Society. One of their primary functions was to provide ushers at all the Masses. For forty-four years—from August of 1959 until just a few months before his death in August 2003, Daddy ushered at the first Mass every Sunday.
I can remember when my children were small and I wanted to attend the 5 p.m. Mass on Christmas Eve. My parents came with me but also attended the first Mass on Christmas Day because Daddy had a commitment to usher.
I remember watching him spend a Saturday at the school repairing lunch tables. And later when I was in high school, seeing him oversee the building of sets for our musical productions (even though I wasn’t even in the Theater Arts program).
Just for the record, my mom was every bit a good Steward as was my daddy. She sewed costumes, ran booths during school events, helped in the CCD program, hand-sewed altar linens, and even made the satin drape that is still used on the Altar of Repose on Holy Thursday.
Needless to say, I learned about giving back from a very early age. Daddy was in charge of the family’s finances. Every month, when he got paid, he would cash his check at the bank, come home, and fill that month’s tithing envelopes with his donation. It was always the first obligation he fulfilled. Off the top.
Daddy was also a good steward to our family. He got up every morning at 6 a.m. and made a hot meal for his family. He would then wake us up at 6:30, eat breakfast with us, and then get ready for work. EVERY MORNING. Even on weekends, he took care of us as his first “task” of the day. We were that important to him. (It’s a very funny family story about how this tradition came to be. If you ask me some time, I will share it with you.)
When Daddy was fighting the War in the South Pacific, he contracted malaria and spent several months in a field hospital. He was taught how to cross-stitch as a way to pass the time. Some time in my very early childhood, he made a cross-stitch of the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep prayer. It hung in the bedroom that I shared with my sister, Sally, until we were teens and replaced it with posters. When she had her daughter, she retrieved the cross-stitch from the garage and hung it in her daughter’s nursery. When I had Rachel two years later, she made a new one for Rachel because she was still using the original one. She just recently asked me if I would like to hang it in my grandchild’s nursery! You betcha! Looking at it today, I can picture my sweet gentle daddy working on the prayer to hang in our bedroom. (He wasn’t even a Catholic then!)
It was because of all these things—and so many more—that I was moved to write the following poem for him on Fathers Day 1988.
Ever since I was your little pal and I followed you around like a shadow, you’ve been the most important man in my life.
That’s why, when you praise me, it’s like a gift from heaven. And when you criticize or disapprove, it crushes me to the bone. Your disapproval wouldn’t hurt me if I didn’t love you like I do.
I may look like an adult, and talk like one, and shoulder the responsibilities of an adult.
But so Sometimes, all I want to do is return to the safe and loving world of my childhood…when you were my Daddy and I was Daddy’s little girl.
I have said it before, and it bears repeating: You have an impact on the lives of other people. Positive or negative. Even if you are not a parent, you can still be a positive role model in someone’s life. Whether you are a Scout leader, a Room Parent at school, a CCD teacher, an uncle (or aunt), a good neighbor, there are opportunities every day to make a difference. Keep your eyes and your heart open and pray for guidance.