My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.
– Jim Valvano
I have heard it said, “Be a good father and be your child’s hero.” Well I’m here to tell you I had a hero- a man who stood as tall as a giant in my world. He was a man who always put his family first, no matter the conditions or the circumstances.
I lost my father in 1992. He was my best friend, my mentor, a cowboy and a man I wanted to be when I grew up. As they say, he had big shoes to fill, but in this case they were big boots. But bigger than his boots was his heart. He may not have told you all his feelings, but you knew they were there because you felt it. He created a sense of comfort and security, and most of all he believed. He believed I had it in me to do my best no matter what, and a trust that I would work hard everyday and take care of my family, livestock and the land.
My father taught me that sweat and blood were tools that would mold a person. A potter molds clay, with methodical turning and shaping of a mass, that is then transformed into a figure. This figure becomes a model that so many times is cast in the same likeness. My father did the same with his hands, that were so big and massive, but also caring. He shaped my heart and soul into being a man, a husband and a father. Sure there are rough edges, but with trust and guidance, the edges became smooth and polished.
The lessons learned through knocks and bruises made the mold stronger. Dad taught me during hard times you don’t give in- you give it your all. Because in the end, no matter the outcome, you have nothing to be ashamed of.
I lost my mother earlier this year and I try everyday to remember the values my parents instilled into me. This quote may say it best,“Treat your parents with loving care, you will only know their value when you see their empty chair.”
My wish for all you fathers today is that you are a role model and a mirror that your children may look into and see a reflection of the values you instilled in them. And no matter if you wear shoes or boots, show them the tracks to make and remember to be thankful that you also had Boots to fill.