This is a post from Janet…
Many, many moons ago, I was a teacher and director at a small synagogue pre-school. It was a sweet little school, across the street from a small farm and up the road from a garden center that sold pumpkins and apples in the fall. Every morning at 8:30 am, forty little bodies would come bouncing in accompanied by their moms. And every afternoon at 3:00 pm, they would depart holding those same hands.
At lunch and playtime, I would hear stories and adventures and mishaps about their families and pets and lives. These little shining faces that I talked with and read to, cooked and sang with, and helped navigate through the frustrations of sharing, and the hurt of being excluded, they were all, in their own ways, so dear to me. And it occurred to me, that for all I knew about them, for the most part, I had barely met one dad. I wanted to.
And so, Breakfast with Dad was scheduled. The kids drew invitations, I announced it in the weekly newsletter, moms volunteered to bring fruit salads and dessert.
And one spring Sunday morning, forty little ones gripping large hands, came proudly in to show off their dads. The coffee was percolating in those big industrial pots, the smell wafting through the room, the bagels were sliced and ready to be spread. The chairs were arranged in a big semi circle around the large room. I took my place on the risers in the front of the room and welcomed everyone. There I was, surrounded by a roomful of dads: some newbie first timers, others more seasoned, third or fourth time around the blockers, whom had probably been to one too many of these events.
But, we had a little entertainment planned. First came a slide show of each child saying something special about their dad. I could see as each dad sat up in his chair, alert and waiting for the slide of their own little one and their sweet accompanying voice talking about him. Dads were pulling little bodies onto their laps and hugging them, smiling. Then, all the kids came up onto the risers and we sang.
“He’s so strong, he’s so tall, he walks among the trees.
He’s so wise, he’s so kind, sometimes I tag along behind.
At work or at home, inside or out, my dad really knows what it’s all about.
He’s so wise, he’s so kind, it really blows my mind, that this great dad is mine!”
I had written it a couple weeks before the breakfast and with the help of a friend strumming on the guitar, the kids had practiced it over and over, standing tall, hands at sides, singing loudly. Now, as I nodded for them to begin, they just belted it out, their little faces shining.
After the entertainment, as I was taking my first bite of bagel, one of the more seasoned dads came up to me with tears in in eyes. “Thank you so much”, he said, “that meant the world to me. But, you look too young to be a parent yourself. How did you know to do this?”
” I’m not a parent yet,” I replied, ” but I just thought about my own dad and wrote that song remembering how I felt about him when I was little and how I still feel about him now”. “He’s lucky”, the dad smiled. “No”, I smiled back, “I am”.
My dad’s been gone a year and a half now. Today, July 30th is his birthday. And still, when I walk through the woods, I feel him amongst the tall trees that surround me, in the breeze that blows past me, see him in the big birds that fly above me and know that he is still right beside me, so strong and tall, so wise and kind.
Not that you need a reminder, but today, take one minute and consciously think of someone you loved who has passed on, and feel their love.