As soon as I flipped over the page of my revolving pictures, it caught my eye. Alongside one another on my dresser were two identical poses of dads with babies, snapshots that captured two moments in time 50 years and three lifetimes apart. On the left was my own father holding a pudgy, 2-year-old me in his left arm and my baby sister in his right. On the right was my son-in-law holding my sweet-faced 2-year-old granddaughter in his left arm, her baby brother in his right. Both Julia and I have our heads tilted at identical angles and smile with the engaging charm of little girls who’ve discovered where the camera is, while our too-young siblings stare disinterestedly down. All of us are caught up in arms that wrap us securely and hold us fast. It is the dads however, that catch my eye. Suddenly they are equally young. The joy evident in their holding their babies is matched by their confident gaze into a hoped-for future.
How fortunate are these grandchildren of mine to have a father so enthusiastic over their mere existence! How fortunate was I, then and now.
Fathers’ Day is an invitation to look both backward and forward and sometimes, all around, at those men who have gathered us up in the strength of their arms, envisioned a future for us, and then, helped make it happen. For some of us, like Julia, it is their daddy; sometimes other men step up and fill that role. How fortunate are we, then and now.
The common phrase is, "we stand on their shoulders.” What I remember is, we stand in their hands. I know Dad did it to me—I have the pictures. But I remember him doing it to my younger brother and sisters. Two little feet, small enough to place in the palm of his hand, pudgy locked knees, stand up straight, and, his free hand at the ready, Daddy would lift the child high to the amazement of all, especially the one up there with saucer eyes and tremulous grin, scared and exhilarated both at once. I think from that vantage point, we can see our future and it is exciting and we know we will not fall; he will not let us fall.