--Col. 3:19, 21.
The situation of my birth was anything but simple. Thoughts of being a young and out of work widower with four children must have flown through my fathers mind, scaring the wits out of him.
From all accounts my delivery went well, except for the fact that my mother lost so much blood this time. There had been a miscarriage between the birth of my older brother and me, and the pregnancy with my younger brother was difficult. Up until delivery, her pregnancy with me was normal. Giving life to me nearly killed her.
But this story isn't about my mother. This one is about my father. He had been laid off from his job at a local military defense plant a few months before I was born and there were 3 other children to feed. My mother worked as a psychiatric nurse in the detox unit of a psychiatric hospital, but paid maternity leave was non-existent. So, in that cold February of 1965, there was no money coming into the house and a fourth child was added to the family. Times were tough, and bill collectors were even tougher.
Eventually my mother would go back to work, but my father didn't find a job until September of that year. He would stay there until his retirement 25 years later.
|Young and carefree|
A million times he could have left. He could have just walked out the door and said good-bye to it all.
But he didn't.
In 1956, he made a vow to love and cherish my mother until death. I imagine that it may have been quite difficult for him to practice that sacramental vow toward a wife who never sobered up. Quite often, he took on the role of both parents because he had to. To the best of my knowledge, he also never cheated on my mother. A lesser person would have cut and run.
|Dad at 50, me at 15.|
My father Pete taught his daughters what it means to be a husband and a father. I often see traits of him these days in Micki's husband, Eddie, as he tends to her breast cancer recovery. I see my father in the way Eddie makes sure someone is with her at all times; in the way he props her up to ease the pain. The sandwich he makes the night before and leaves on the night table.
At forty-six, I've never been blessed with the opportunity to live the sacrament of marriage, but because of my father, I know that love is not an emotion, but is the action of giving yourself completely over to another. My father then has made real for me the meaning of Christ's words, "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another." (John 13:34)