On June 24, 2012 at the University of Oklahoma boys’ basketball camp, I overheard a group of campers sharing what their fathers meant to them. A young man told a memorable story.
The young man, I’ll call Ron, stated that he wanted to be a professional astronomer but by the time he was a high school he realized that he would never become one because he could not understand mathematics, physics or chemistry no matter how much effort he dedicated to master these subjects. His father encouraged him to attend summer school classes. Because he wanted him to dedicate all of his energy towards his coursework, his father got a second job to pay for his tutors and school. Nothing could help Ron raise his grades above “D,s”. With reluctance, recognized that he was unable to pass prerequisite courses decide that the only way he could close to astronomy was to be a member of the astronomy club.
Ron’s father continued to support him by maintaining the second job. “Dad always saw to it that I attended astronomy club meetings, had the equipment needed and even went with me to field trip when scheduled. And what you needed to know is that my father is an injured Iraq war veteran. Even though he lost both legs and an arm he works hard to provide for me, my mom, my brother and sister. Though he is considered disabled, he refuses to accept the notion that he is unable to work and provide for his family”.
Those able to hear Ron’s story sat in silence as they ate lunch in the university cafeteria. What a tribute to a father when responsible fatherhood is discouraged, even ridiculed among many in American society.
Ron’s tribute to his father was remembered because I received a telephone call from a church member whose father was very ill and said to have been recommended for hospice care. This meant that he probably had months to live. “When I received the information from the doctor about dad, I was devastated.”
Nothing further was said but the family and I knew this father is a model father who is an integral part of his family. My presence would be affirmation of this to celebrate his fatherhood and life. Though the trip was only a few miles, I wondered what I could say. Perhaps nothing need be said for his life said it all.