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Tell Dad thanks for his example, love

Joe Johnson

It is time for fathers around the world to bask in celebration as Father's Day nears. Contemplating today's column and wanting it to have a meaning that evokes the true spirit of this special day, I decided to write a letter to the man I call Dad... a tribute if you will.

Dear Dad,

So many things come to mind this Father's Day. I cherish the memories you have given me, the values and lessons you helped me understand in life, and the integrity you modeled on my behalf. Your example allows me to see that a man should always be there for his wife and children and make God and family ultimate priorities.

You have shown me what it is like to be human... to make mistakes, but then to stand up and correct one's errors, learn from them, and hold your head up high. By your example, I can now do the same. The reflection in the mirror smiles back at me with pride at the person I have become.

With you at my side, I learned that success is to be shared so one can help others as you did for me so many times in my life. You helped me to hold myself accountable, take stock in an honest day's work and provide for and make sacrifices for my family. In doing so, I am able to reap precious rewards that far exceed any monetary fortune.

Throughout my childhood and having spent so many days and nights praying to feel the love of a father, I felt a void - a huge hole in my soul. There was no guiding hand to lead me, no man to look me in the eyes and tell me he was proud.

I believe my prayers were answered when you entered my life. You are the loving father I longed to know and whose unconditional support feeds me and provides the mentorship I am able pass on to my own children.

Our first hunt together touched me in a profound way. I had taken my first buck and watched your approach through the woods when you came to check to see if I had made my shot. I remember a feeling of trust in knowing how proud you would be of the son-in-law you called your own.

Thank you for taking the time, when no other man in my life had ever done, to embrace me that day in the excitement and the thrill of it all. In that moment, a stillness and overwhelming sense of peace filled my heart. It was then I knew... you loved me!

You were the man I would call Dad.

Take time to thank the men in your life who influence us, change us, guide us, teach us and, most of all, love us.

Editor's note: Joe Johnson and his wife Amanda have two children. He is a licensed master trainer/consultant for St. Joseph's Area Health Services Community Health Nurturing Fathers Program and is a case manager for the FATHER Project, a program funded by Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota. To learn more about participating in Fathering Skills classes, call him at 255-2063 or e-mail josephjohnson@catholic