Last month I reflected on Mother’s Day one day late, and I have decided to give the fathers in my life equal time. As I’ve pondered what’s important to share, out of a lifetime of memories, the theme that has risen to the surface is faithfulness.
My father’s life is definitely a study in faithfulness. He has been very faithful to his wife (fifty-eight years and counting), his work (when he retired, he’d worked for the same organization for over thirty years), and his faith (the same church since 1969). My father is also faithful to his music. I well remember his faithfulness to practice as he rehearsed piece after piece for church choir or the Fiesta Singers. As a tenor soloist, he had many opportunities to sing “Every valley shall be exalted” in annual performances of Handel’s Messiah, and I love to tell the story of my younger brother processing through the house at three or four years old, loudly singing, “Everybody shall be exhausted!”
My father’s father’s faithfulness was also evident to me as a young child. I’ve already shared many stories about him in an earlier post, as he was an influential spiritual role model for me. I also remember family hymn singalongs in their house in Tucson, and I’m grateful that he taught me the values of “offsetting” (a family term referring to alternating servings of ice cream with See’s chocolates)!
My mother’s father was, like his wife, an artist—specifically, a woodworker. Unfortunately, the wooden jewelry he gave to me as a child was stolen during a house robbery a dozen years ago. Fortunately, shortly after we moved to Tucson, my mother gave me the lovely carvings he made (pictured above) in honor of a Tucson area landmark, San Xavier del Bac (I’ll share some of my photos of the church this week on Instagram). These carvings always adorned our fireplace mantel when I was a child, and it’s wonderful to have them in the prayer space of my own home now.
Of course, I couldn’t talk about fatherhood and faithfulness without also mentioning my husband. Henry’s faithfulness to his children was one of the first things that attracted me to him. When I met him in 1993, he had recently purchased (at considerable expense) one of the earliest hand-sized (relatively speaking!) mobile telephones in order to stay connected with his teenaged sons (who lived with their mom). He told them, “Call me anytime,” and he meant it. That availability was revolutionary back then. He still connects regularly with his sons—on much more advanced devices!
Henry was also very faithful to worship, and it was in going to worship together that Henry and I got to know each other. He gave me rides to the SSJE Monastery, where we joined the monks for Compline multiple times per week. Even though we are currently worshipping virtually, it’s still important for both of us to worship together. Our faithfulness to that part of our marital heritage has sustained us through some challenging seasons of our lives.
Faithfulness will definitely be required to effect the systemic change needed in America today. Who are the models of faithfulness in your life? How have the fathers in your family influenced you?