When a tall, gaunt man in a pressed green uniform had stepped in the door of our house, my mom exclaimed, “Your dad is home from the war, at last!” I was about five. When he had held out his arms to me, I did not run into them. Instead, I held tightly to my mother’s legs and wondered who the stranger was – and why he was moving in with us.
Being career military, Dad’s being home for a long period of time only happened late in his career. He balanced two demanding worlds: a commitment to defend the United States and a desire to protect, guide, and provide for his family – often long distance.
He took his home role seriously. Dad rose before dawn to cook breakfast for the family before he went to work. As he balanced a pancake on the spatula, “Jo, don’t you want another pancake? You’ve only had thirteen.”
As we became teens, we siblings sometimes thought Dad was hopelessly old-fashioned. He was the one who insisted I change my clothes when I bought a dress so short I could not bend over. (“Everybody else lets their kids dress the way they want,” I would wail.) He was the one who insisted we all work summers to save money for college. (“Everybody else gives their kids big allowances and let them stay home during vacations.”) No one else’s dad butted into their lives, but Dad spent hours guiding us through the tough decisions of moving into adulthood. No stranger now, he had truly shown us his love with his commitment and time. We had grown to love him, realizing that boundaries are part of a good father’s job.
My father had proved his bravery in two wars and a full military career, receiving silver and bronze star as well as a nomination for the President’s Medal of Honor.
When cancer ravaged his health and lifestyle, he fought for more time and saw all of three of us grow to adulthood.
God bless fathers who currently serve both country and family. God keep you safe and bring you home — forever and always.
[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, Intermedia Publishing 2011. For more chuckles, keep checking her weekly blog on buttontogod.dev.]