Father’s Day has always passed without much fanfare for me. My relationship with my father was challenging, and I can count the brief and uncomfortable encounters I had with him on two hands. Even so, I was surprised to realize that I have no photos of us together- not one. While part of me wishes that things had been different, in my heart I know that events happened for the best for both me and my mother. I have been blessed to have had the gift of many ‘dads’ in my life, father figures who were wonderful examples of good and loving men. Today I want to thank them for their impact on my life. My father and a young Heavy D.
From my Uncle Russell (‘Uncle Teaser’), my Aunt Sara’s husband, I learned that good fathers are gentle and strong, patient and loving…and that a good sense of humor goes a long way. He was there to tease me and make me feel special, and show me that not all fathers were distant and cold. I will always see him in my mind, a tall, thin, redhead, his love and devotion to my mom’s oldest sister and their children so evident. I loved visiting their home, always filled with laughter and the sounds of their music making (Bluegrass!). Uncle ‘Teaser’ and Aunt Sara
From my high school band director, Lonnie Keen, I learned that doing what you love is important- much more so than wealth or fame, and that I could follow my dreams of pursuing music as a career as long as I worked hard. Through observing his passion and dedication, I discovered that I loved teaching and wanted to impact young people as Mr. Keen did for me. He gave me the gift of high standards and strong work ethic, as well as a critical ear and the opportunity to play literature and learn skills that prepared me so well for college and beyond. He also took the time to listen to me, to really hear my hopes and dreams and give me good, solid guidance. Mr. Keen and a very young me after band contest.
From my clarinet teacher and mentor, Kal Opperman, I learned that I had a fierce and loyal protector. He taught me not to settle for less in music or in life, or allow myself to be mistreated by another man. His devotion to his wife, his children, his students, and his craft inspired me more than I can ever say. Kal and me.
Finally, from my husband, Dan, I see what I would loved to have had in the father of my children if I had had them. His kindness, childlike sense of wonder, gentleness, his creativeness and sense of humor, are gifts beyond measure. He would be a father who encouraged and loved with everything he had without hesitation.
So on this Father’s Day, I am nothing but grateful to the good and caring men who have touched my life in such meaningful ways. I hope that men realize that their actions can impact people far beyond their own families. A father figure is such an important thing for us to have, and the connection doesn’t have to be biological…someone who cares can make all the difference in the world.