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A Father's Influence: Become the Dad You Wished You Had

The writer of Hebrews makes a wonderful statement about nature of God our Father that has stayed with me my entire Christian walk. He says, “I will never leave you, I will never forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). Whenever I read that verse I am reminded of the love I felt from my father my entire life. He was always there for me and my brothers and sister, even as adults. I was very fortunate to have grown up in a home with four brothers and a sister and a very attentive father who happened to be a fireman. His love language was definitely quality time together. As a fireman, his work schedule provided him five days off every other week, leaving him plenty of time for working around the house, making extra money for the family budget or to go fishing, one of his passions. So in his spare time my dad would paint houses or do concrete work for extra money since our mother was a stay at home mom. And occasionally he would go deep sea fishing with his fireman buddies.

We loved to share our dad with all of our friends since many of them grew up in homes with a single mother. My dad didn't hesitate to take at least two of us boys and usually one or two of our friends along with him whether we were working a side job or going fishing in his boat out to the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco. Many of them affectionately referred to him as pops and we loved that and so did my father. He was a substitute father to many of them.

One of the aspects of my dad's affection was for him to basically stop time with a dramatic pause in his speech pattern, which always lead up to a question he would ask each of us regularly, “Have I told you I loved you today?” It could happen when we would take a break from painting or pouring someone's sidewalk or fishing off the coast of California. Naturally, we would always respond and say, “Yes dad, as a matter of fact you did this morning when you woke me up.” And then we would return the question with the same dramatic question, “By the way, have I told you I love you lately?” And so it went until the day he passed away at the age of 80.

One of those childhood friends recently called me, and in the midst of our reminiscing he dramatically paused and asked me the question before I could ask him, “Have I told you I loved you today?” I responded by expressing how much we both loved my dad and how wonderful it was that our kids and grandkids now race to ask that very same question each time we see them? My friend, because of my father's influence had become like my father to his children. He became the dad he wished he had.