Today we live in world with a potpourri of diverse families. It’s a tapestry of who makes up the family, who plays what role and and how we survive with missing pieces. Yep, this is the month to celebrate fathers…but who are they? Most reports today say that between 68% to 40% of women are heads of households depending upon the community and the numbers are on the rise.

In gay families, a woman or two guys can take on the responsibilities of Dad. In the homes where Mom is working several jobs, often the oldest sibling, male or female, is sadly the default father. So here is a big thank you, first to the fathers who gladly embraced that responsibility and provide the presence, teaching and love that sacred position invites. And also, big applause to all the other beloved siblings, sponsors, grandparents, mentors, teachers, partners, extended family members and others who do as well.

No longer is the gift of acting as Dad or Mom confined to gender, birth right or yang energy. Being a Dad is about an open heart, and open hand, compassion and commitment. The teachers of old decided God should a male figure because more folks would relate. Today, many realize that special Spirit or Energy is both yin and yang, male and female. Could it be that we are realizing that is true for all of us? Whether you are male or female, to whom could you give the gift of supporting someone like a Dad or role model? If you are still looking for your purpose, consider changing a life.

My fourth grade, four-foot, five-inch, sixty-something plus teacher, Ms. Franklin was the epitome of spinster teachery, in high top shoes, long skirts and tiny glasses. She was strict, you knew meant business. At the time, my mom was home drunk all the time and my Dad was missing in action. Ms. Franklin noticed I had lost confidence in myself and one day in the Phoenix heat, she maneuvered her way out on the playground where I was sitting alone and she sat down beside me. In her soft, reverberating voice she said, “So, how long are you going to pretend you are not smart?” Thinking I was in trouble I looked at her anticipating her disapproval. She put her little wrinkled hand on mine and said, “You know I have this feeling you are having a hard time at home, but I see something in you that you might be having trouble seeing because of all that mess. So I just wanted to tell you that you can stop playing dumb because we both know that you are a very smart girl inside and I don’t want to see you hiding that no matter how silly your parents are. Do we have a deal here?” I nodded and she simply got up and left me with many future little nods and winks when she passed out my greatly improved grades. She was my Dad, so to speak, and she changed my life.

Then there was the beautiful French opera singer in our church who told me at age ten I had a good voice and should sing on the talent show at school. She gave me soft leather gloves and French combs for my hair when we moved. She took my face in her hands and loving looked into my eyes and said, “Never forget who you are and that you are special.” There was a couple next door, Paul and Bobbi Malone, who invited me for dinner on the nights my mom forgot to make one. They had four kids but treated me as one of their own, with so much support and love there were moments of sanity in my life. My favorite spiritual mentor was eighty-year old Irene Thorstad. I sat for hours at her feet just soaking in all the wisdom she lovingly shared. I often feel she’s an angel on my shoulder today.

After raising four kids alone and working two jobs most of my life, I was shocked when the admissions counselor and V.P of the college stopped me mid-sentence as I was lauding his amazing books. He, said, “Oh no, young lady it is I who am amazed with you! How in the name of heaven did you fast for thirty-seven days on water for the Equal Rights Amendment and raise four kids by yourself?” I welled up in tears at his unexpected comment and in that moment, the fear left and I knew I would succeed at this over-welling adventure I was about to begin in my early forties. So many mom-dads and dad dads. So many gifts. This whole article could be filled with the names of the people in my life who cared enough to be mother or Dad when I needed them most. Don’t miss your chance to be an indelible gift on the character and spirit of someone you love. Happy father’s day from all of us!

Dr. Dina Evan

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