A couple of weeks ago, my youngest son graduated from High School with high honors. It was quite a big deal for our family, as you might guess. Even my oldest son came from LA to attend! The Class of 2020 had a one-of-a-kind Graduation ceremony this year. Despite the COVID-19 social distancing and other limitations, the graduation ceremony was probably even more meaningful than what we’d all expected. It wasn’t only about the Diploma, of course. The High School held a personalized commencement for each graduating student and their family, which was very original. The School’s Principal had asked the Teachers to write the adjectives which best described each Graduate. Then on Graduation Day, the Principal read that list out loud. It was sincere, emotional, and gratifying to hear the Principal read these adjectives because they captured with precision whom our son is as a person. I felt this short, yet heartfelt ceremony had restored the honor due to the Class of 2020. It paid respect to the Graduates for all their efforts -not only during the Quarantine but also during the other four years they had all worked so hard.
We went home feeling so proud of our Graduate, while he was holding his Diploma with a slight pride of his accomplishment, -just about to be a Freshman in the Fall!
As we celebrate Father’s Day this Sunday, I know how blessed my sons are to have their Dad in their life. I’ve witnessed how their Dad has been a part of every stage of our sons' lives. I know our family is stronger because we have him. I can sense how proud my sons are of their Father, and all his accomplishments -but mostly for showing up, and for being able to count on him. They’ve learned so much from him, not by what he said necessarily but by his actions. I guess, as they say: “More is caught than taught.” I always remember them together. What a tight bunch they are! It hasn’t always been easy, the difference is -we’ve always been together as a family. We’ve done our best to love each other at every stage, at all costs. What an honor to celebrate Dad this Sunday! It’s hardly about the gifts, it’s more about having him here right now. I know a lot of families are also blessed to have great Dads to celebrate.
Yet, I am mindful of the families where Dad is not there and how difficult that is when Mom has to be both Mom and Dad in just one skin. In my book, that’s a Hero. I’m also aware of how some grieve their Dads and how painful that feels, -especially if they were victims of an unfair social situation. We stand with these families and pray for them in their distress. Maybe in other families, all their needs are met abundantly -but at the expense of never seeing their Dad or ever spending time with him. How painful this has to feel. Life moves on so fast. The only time we really have with our kids is now. But it’s never too late. What we can improve in our relationships is never wasted. Even if it feels too far gone. As they say: “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.” So take heart, you still have a chance to make up for lost time!
Last but never least, on this Father’s Day, I also want to celebrate the men who fill in the gap and are the closest reference to a Father figure some kids will ever know. How blessed those kids are to have you! Family doesn’t need to be blood. But it still requires love and commitment to our kids. Your life will inspire them to remember how you stepped in to be their Dad. So we celebrate you too!
Congratulations to all the Class of 2020 and all our Dads, Step-Dads, and Father figures -everywhere! Thank you for all you do every day! We are celebrating you all this month! God bless your hearts!
All my best to you,
Maria A. Mansfield, PRS-E
Author: “Life is Worth Getting Better” and “Honoring Your Recovery”