Tuesday, September 23, 2014

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: A father fills roles with unconditional love — even at Disneyland

By AMY NEWMARK, Chicken Soup for the Soul | 6/13/2014

On Father’s Day, Amy Lyons and her two sisters traveled thousands of miles to Boston. When they met their father when he got off work at the post office, he had tears in his eyes. It was the first Father’s Day in years that he had had all of his “babies” in one place, as Amy wrote in her story “Handstands,” published in our book on gratitude for our fathers.

Amy was glad to be there and to be able to remind her father in person how well he had done raising three girls as a widower. Amy was 8 when her mother died after fighting cancer for two years. Her father spent those two years caring for his wife and trying to make his daughters’ lives as cheerful as possible. Amy remembers him tucking her in and then using a flashlight and his hand to project “bedtime creatures” on the wall. When he took the girls candlepin bowling, he somehow managed to make them feel that “renting used shoes was luxurious,” as Amy wrote. For after-dinner entertainment, he held “the transparent lid of a pastry box against his face and performed a one-man television program.”

On Father’s Day, Amy Lyons and her two sisters traveled thousands of miles to Boston. When they met their father when he got off work at the post office, he had tears in his eyes. It was the first Father’s Day in years that he had had all of his “babies” in one place, as Amy wrote in her story “Handstands,” published in our book on gratitude for our fathers.

Amy was glad to be there and to be able to remind her father in person how well he had done raising three girls as a widower. Amy was 8 when her mother died after fighting cancer for two years. Her father spent those two years caring for his wife and trying to make his daughters’ lives as cheerful as possible. Amy remembers him tucking her in and then using a flashlight and his hand to project “bedtime creatures” on the wall. When he took the girls candlepin bowling, he somehow managed to make them feel that “renting used shoes was luxurious,” as Amy wrote. For after-dinner entertainment, he held “the transparent lid of a pastry box against his face and performed a one-man television program.”

Amy wrote that she “cannot imagine how he salvaged a fulfilling childhood for us,” despite the sickness and then the loss of their mother. But somehow he did it, filling every role necessary. He was the tutor who helped his daughters diagram sentences and write book reports. He was the tour guide who took them to Disneyland. He was the playmate who participated in Monopoly marathons and jigsaw puzzles. And, later, he became a teacher when “questions of female pubescence abounded.”

Recently, Amy’s father has become devoted to new additions to the family. Amy wrote that her sister’s son had become her father’s favorite person and that he would certainly have another weepy moment when he met the second son that Amy’s sister was expecting.

Whether our own fathers were primary caregivers like Amy’s or played a secondary parenting role, as some do, let us all remember this Father’s Day the support and unconditional love only our fathers can give.

•••

Linda Leary had once owned an export business that paid her well, provided her with great health insurance and allowed her time to travel. Years later, after a big investment had gone very badly, she was on her way to a job interview for a part-time gig that would pay $8 an hour. She saw a bumper sticker that read “Too blessed to be stressed” and snorted. More like “Too stressed to be blessed,” she thought.

In her story “Pressed, Stressed and Blessed,” published in our book on positive thinking, she wrote about how she managed to change her life for the better by working hard and keeping her head up. She landed the job she was heading to that day, which, at first, seemed like a mixed blessing. The work involved lifting and sorting 50-pound bags of mail. At 58 and uninsured, Linda was worried about how her body would hold up.

However, her worries also motivated her. “I was determined to show the owner that this ‘old broad’ could perform,” she wrote. So, she worked hard. The example she set encouraged her young co-workers to up their game, and the mail-sorting operation’s efficiency improved. She also went beyond her job description by offering advice to a customer who brought in marketing materials that were not well written. After observing Linda’s work ethic, her boss nominated her for membership in a women’s networking group.

Linda was a skilled writer, so as she met women in the group who ran businesses, she was able to land some contracts for writing website and marketing content. Her hourly rate tripled. Eventually, she quit her mail-sorting job and is now able to work full time writing.

This doesn’t mean everything is easy all the time. “I admit I feel pressed at times about a deadline for finances,” she wrote. “I sometimes allow myself to worry about something that, in the long term, is not worth the effort.” But, all in all, Linda feels she has turned things around. “Indeed,” she wrote, “I am blessed — too blessed to be stressed.”

Syndicated by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, online at www.chickensoup.com

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