Dear Dr. Laura,
My dad is the kind of man that all men should strive to be. Is he perfect? Not by a long shot. I would never pretend that he was, but in ways where it matters the most, the vast majority of men pale in comparison. In 1950, at the age of 20, he was drafted into the Army to fight in the Korean War, was promptly captured by the Chinese and held as a prisoner for 27 months. When he was finally released, he returned home a man whom no one knew. His family related to him as the boy he had been and did not yet know the man he had become, or understand the trials he'd been through.
He found himself at a crossroads needing direction and a new beginning, and he found that in my mother. She had not known him prior to his service and took him for who he was. Where lesser men might have wallowed in self pity, my dad set to the task of raising a family and working hard. We always had what we needed and most of what we wanted. And he always made me feel special and as though there was nothing I couldn't do.
Now, in his last years, he can barely walk, but does it anyway...knowing that the minute he stops trying he's done for. And he can't give up, because he now takes care of his "sweetheart", the woman he credits for saving his life 60 years ago when he'd come home lost and without direction. She doesn't remember much anymore, but he remembers for the both of them and how she worked beside him and gave him a home and a purpose in life when he really needed it.
My dad has been steadfast where it mattered, always putting his family first, raising his daughters with a healthy respect for his authority while instilling confidence and pride in who we are...all while dealing with the memories of his life experiences that few of us in this day and age could ever fathom. When times get hard for me, and I start feeling sorry for myself, I stop and consider my father's perseverance and realize that my life is just really not that hard.
When his generation is gone, I fear we will never see the likes of such men again. But, the man he is will live on in me and my daughter and her children...and I can't thank him enough for that.