By Marie Ardiito
Co-founder, Massachusetts Retirees United (www.retireesunited.org)
This past April, Beverly Beckham wrote an article in \ The Boston Globe regarding her grandson. She spoke about how he had put her on a pedestal, turning to her to spell a word, give a definition, or any of the hundred and one things a grandmother can do to be special in her grandchildren’s eyes. She spoke about enjoying that pedestal with her own children until they got to the age when mother knew nothing and they knew it all.
Mother’s Day has come and gone when mothers got to enjoy the pedestal if only for a day, but Father’s Day looms on the horizon. Dads, I think, are truly unsung heroes. They are less often put on the pedestal. We are all familiar with the saying that behind every great man is a great woman, but I truly believe behind every successful woman is a very supportive man.
We hear about the one in three homes in America devoid of a father, but how often do we think of the great impact that a father or male makes in the other 2/3rds of American homes. So many times I have marveled when being at soccer, baseball, hockey, or other sporting events to watch young men, or not so young men, coaching an evening event after working all day. What an example they are not only to the children they coach, but to the spectators who watch.
We see men roll up their sleeves to give of themselves in so many volunteer efforts at school, church and community. So often we see them stop to offer assistance to someone stopped at the side of the road. I know how often I have said a “thank you” to the angel who breaks the snow heap at the end of my driveway after a storm.
There are far too many who have not had the love and example of a caring father and look toward male images they meet along life’s road to provide this example. We have all heard of the Big Brother movement which pairs up young men with younger boys that they mentor. There is another movement, Foster Grandparents, which pairs older Americans with young people who need mentoring. Some of these groups are only dedicated to children with special needs, but others a more diverse group. Some even provide stipends to those who give of their time.
Today, more than any other time in history, Americans are looking for role models, people they can look up to. For too long those in Hollywood or sports figures were asked to fill that role. Too often their example has been a letdown rather than an inspiration. How blessed we are if we had/have a man in our life that filled that role for us. How much greater if the males among us are performing that role for someone presently in their life.
Get the pedestal dusted for that special someone in your life this Father’s Day. More importantly, bring it out often during the course of the year!