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Reflections on Fatherhood
6/1/2017 12:06:06 PM

You’re probably wondering what makes me qualified to write this. I’m obviously not a father, but I have spent my entire life watching and learning from the person I consider to be the greatest example of fatherhood I’ve ever seen. Of course, I’m biased, but that doesn’t make me wrong. 

My dad, J.C. Como, died in January. It is still so difficult to wrap my head – and my heart – around the fact that he’s really gone. I can’t pick up the phone to call him for advice or to share a funny story. He wasn’t here to see the opening of our new office (He was prouder than I was when I took him through the frame-up.) and won’t be here for the birth of his first great-grandchild this fall.  Of course, I’ve always known and accepted that the natural order of things is for our parents to die before us, but experiencing the reality of this was much more devastating than I ever imagined. My dad was a huge part of my life and it is impossible to put into words what he meant to me and my family, but I’m taking this opportunity to try. He was the anchor, the foundation, the steady voice that calmly guided us through whatever crisis we faced – and there have been many. His lifelong example of faith, generosity, kindness and humility is rare. He was a humble man of few words, but they were always the right words at the right time. 

I honestly thought everybody had a Dad like mine until I was old enough to know better, and really began to appreciate how special he was. I count this as an even greater blessing because I was adopted, not that he or my mother ever made me feel like any less their child because of that. 

I’ve been dreading this first Father’s Day without him, but I can hear his voice in my head saying, "It won’t do any good to throw a pity party for yourself. It is what it is. You can handle this.”  So, I’ve decided the best way I can "handle this” is to celebrate those characteristics that made him such an amazing father.  Maybe by sharing these, a dad or dad-to-be will gain something from his example. 

Be Resilient

My dad didn’t have the easiest life. He didn’t have a lot growing up or starting out. He couldn’t afford to go to college so he joined the navy instead. When he got out, he worked three jobs at one point to provide for his young family. He lost a young son to cancer and three infant grandchildren who were born prematurely. He watched his other son battle cancer twice, and he himself faced numerous other health problems. Yet you never heard him complain. He always persevered and was thankful for what he had. He knew that life was tough, but he chose to be tougher without becoming bitter. He never lost his faith. He was resilient and always found the joy in life throughout the hardships he faced.

Be a Problem Solver

There wasn’t a problem or situation my dad couldn’t fix, whether it was a faulty car engine, how to balance a chemistry equation or how to raise three kids on your own after a divorce turns your world upside down. Imagine the comfort that comes from knowing you can turn to someone who cares about you with any problem and find help and support, instead of judgement and criticism. My dad was ready to jump in and help with anything we needed, anywhere or any time we needed it, usually before we even asked. What a gift. 

Be Patient

Don’t give up on your kids. Even when they can’t pitch a curve ball, solve a word problem, or back up straight down a drive way. My dad was the most patient person I ever met. I remember one year in middle school when word problems threatened my sanity. I had always been a straight-A-student but could not get my brain to pull numbers and equations out of sentences. He worked with me every night and never lost patience with me, even though he tried for hours to get me to "get it.” We went camping that weekend and he called me over to the picnic table and told me we were going to start over on word problems – no books. He had several pages of handwritten problems he had made up for me at work about things in our life: our trips, our dog, my friends, etc. We went through each one and he worked out simple formulas to help me understand how to set them up. To this day, I still think, "’Is’ means ‘equal’ and ‘of’ means ‘times,’” in my head when I’m working out percentage problems at work, and it all goes back to him patiently working through problems with me all those years ago, on his weekend to relax. Because he didn’t give up on me, I learned not to give up on myself. 

Lead by Example 

Kids hear what you say, but they do what you do. Like I said, he was a man of few words, so there weren’t many lectures from my dad, but somehow, you knew what he expected of you, and the thought of disappointing him was a guiding force in my life (and still is). He didn’t just tell us what to do; he showed us by the way he lived his life. He often said, "The right way is usually the hard way,” when we would complain about something being too hard or taking too long. To him success with anything was really in the details. Doing something right was worth taking your time. He worked hard for everything we had, and didn’t do anything halfway. He lived his faith, and helped others every chance he got. 

Just be There 

My dad often said, "Eighty percent of success is just showing up.” Well, he far exceeded that percentage. He was there for us 100 percent and then some. He worked shift work most of the time I was growing up, and lots of overtime, but still coached my sports teams, rarely missing a game. I never realized until I was an adult the effort it must have taken to head out to the ballpark after working a 12-hour shift, but he did it. I was a pitcher and he spent hours and hours catching for me in our front yard (where he had installed a pitcher’s mound) after work, because he knew practice was important for success. I complained, but he didn’t. He was there for piano and dance recitals, awards’ nights, homework, school projects -- everything. We went on family vacations every summer and camping on many weekends. There was never any doubt we were his priority because he was there, tireless in his support of everything we did. 

My dad left a legacy that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. Was he a perfect man? That’s not for me to judge, but he was certainly the perfect father for me. If grief is the price we pay for love, then he is worth every tear. 

Posted by: Kristy Armand | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Parenting  |  Relationships

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