<p>In the past 20 or so years, it has become increasingly common to minimize the importance of fathers and the role they play in their children’s lives. The mainstream media especially has developed a fondness for portraying fathers (and men in general) as little more than bumbling, inept incompetents who are constantly in need of rescuing by their far more capable wives. How sad this is and what a disservice to not only those men who take their roles as husbands and fathers seriously, but to the mothers and children who are deprived of the perspective and example that only a man can provide and who are deceived into thinking that the presence of a father and husband in their daily lives is superfluous.</p><p>How did this happen? While there are many factors that can be listed as having contributed to this unfortunate reality, in honor of Father’s Day, let us rather call to mind the virtues and example of Saint Joseph, the model of fathers and in turn, remember and honor the dads, grandfathers, uncles, and all the men, living and deceased, who, in imitation of Saint Joseph, tirelessly and selflessly give or gave of themselves for their families with unconditional love. What a blessed difference these men make or have made in the lives of their wife and children – one that will remain with them their entire lives. What follows is the story of one such father….</p><p>This October 18th will be the 20th anniversary of the day God called my dad home to Himself. It’s hard to believe it’s been two decades, because it still seems like only yesterday, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, lovingly remember him and fervently thank God that He chose this particular man to be my father, my dad.</p><p>Mom often liked to remark that before I was born, my dad’s greatest desire was that his first child be a girl. In fact, he was so confident his prayer would be granted, he was really only interested in picking girl names. This being the days long before the advent of sonograms to give a “heads-up” into the sex of an expected baby, my parents had to be content in their anticipation, but in the end, dad got his wish for a daughter.</p><p>There are so many wonderful memories of my dad spanning all the years from my childhood to adulthood safely tucked away in my heart. In free, quiet moments, I like to bring them out to revisit them like the cherished old friends they are…teaching me to ride a two-wheel bike minus training wheels as he gamely jogged behind me holding onto the bike as I struggled for balance; playful water fights while washing the car on warm afternoons; sitting quietly in the backyard late into the summer night admiring the brilliance of the star-filled sky; the secret to precision parallel parking; summer evenings at the Hollywood Bowl enjoying a picnic dinner and wonderful classical music; the annual trek to the L.A. Auto Show to admire the latest in automotive trends and design….and so many more. Yet, if I had to pick one favorite memory, it would have to be when dad decided it was time to teach me to dance.</p><p>Dad and mom both were great lovers of classical music and they readily passed this interest on to me. My earliest memories always include sounds of music wafting through the house. Dad also loved to dance and needless to say, he enthusiastically looked forward to sharing this interest with me. Dad was a tall man and from a very early age, it became obvious that I inherited the “tall gene” from his side of the family. He wouldn’t have to wait too long for me to “catch up” as far as height was concerned. By the time I was 12, the disparity in height became less of an issue and one Saturday morning after breakfast, he walked into the living room to the phonograph and started pulling out records as he cheerfully called to me to join him. It was time to get down to the business of teaching his girl to dance!</p><p>Admittedly, I was a tad skeptical as with raised eyebrows, I watched him choosing records. As I debated in my head how to extricate myself from this lesson, mom sidled up to me and quietly said: “He’s looked forward to this since the day you were born. Don’t spoil his fun as it won’t do you any harm to play along for an hour.”</p><p>After a moment’s thought, I decided that yes, mom was right. Dad does so much for me without complaint, dancing with him for an hour is hardly asking much. After moving some furniture out of the way, we had our makeshift dance floor in the middle of the living room. Five minutes into the lesson I was hooked. I guess I inherited the “dance gene” from dad, too! We danced our way through the foxtrot, the slow waltz, the tango, the Viennese waltz, the rumba and many more. We quickly realized the carpeted floor was not particularly conducive to smooth gliding, so we moved the lessons to the garage, its smooth cement surface the perfect stand-in for a wooden dance floor. What started out as a one-time lesson, turned into a weekly activity reserved for every Saturday morning for years thereafter. What fun we had! Even as I moved into my teens and early twenties, it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to my Saturday morning dances with dad. They will remain among my most treasured memories of him for the rest of my life.</p><p>Of all the wonderful experiences I was blessed to share with my father, the most important lesson I learned was how to live life with integrity and fortitude and by keeping God as the focal point of the family. I was privileged to see this through the example of how he lived his ordinary, day-to-day life. How important is the role of a father…a dad!</p><p>It was through my dad’s example that I learned how a man should treat his wife and his daughter and how a wife and daughter should expect to be treated by a husband and father. It was through my dad’s example that I learned generosity of spirit, the willingness to lend a helping hand. Most importantly, it was through my dad’s example that I learned how to place all faith and trust in God even during the most difficult and trying of life’s moments, be it escaping terrible religious persecution in his native land or through the years of the pain and suffering of a final illness. How much richer is my life for having been graced with the presence of the man who was my dad! This Fathers’ Day, I will remember him and gratefully thank God for the precious gift that was his life.</p><p>This Fathers’ Day, remember to tell your dad how much he means to you and how much you appreciate all he has done for you… that will mean more to him than the grandest gift money could buy. Then pray for Saint Joseph’s intercession on behalf of all dads that his holy example will continue to be an inspiration to all fathers. And for the dads who have been called from this life, may God grant you all eternal rest. Happy Father’s Day.</p>