Change had blown in on the winds of spring air and catapulted my family into a new era. My brother had graduated from high school in May and would be leaving for college. I had finished my studies and was leaving for a new job in Europe. We only had a few precious months left as a family living under the same roof. Everything would change in the fall.
Dad had quite the reputation for being the gushy, sentimental type. Surprisingly, he was doing okay as an impending empty nester. A few tears were shed when "Pomp and Circumstance" was played at the graduation ceremony, but for the most part he was holding it all together. We were very proud of his composure.
May also brought a family of magpies that would take up residence in our maple tree. This family returned year after year to bicker, squawk, build nests and raise baby magpies.
This particular generation of magpies seemed to be extraordinarily noisy. The tree shook with their daily skirmishes, leaves dropping and horrible sounds coming from the inside of the branches.
One early morning, the ruckus was so bad that my dad ventured out to see what the birds were doing. He found a lone, fledgling magpie hopping around the yard, flapping his little wings and yelling his little birdie head off.
Dad bent down to talk to the bird. "Hey there little guy. What's going on? Did you fall out of your nest? Poor birdie. Where's your family?"
He looked up in the tree to find Mommy and Daddy Magpie sitting on a branch and glaring ominously at him. "Oh, there you are. You should keep a closer eye on your baby. We have nasty cats."
Dad went inside to take a shower. As he was leaving for work, the poor magpie was still hopping about, flapping his wings and trying to fly. He had to do something for the poor little thing.
Dad called the zoo. "Yes, well I have this baby magpie in my yard. He's trying to learn how to fly but he can't yet and I just don't know what to do to help him. Should I catch him and put him in a box? Should I put him back in his nest? Should I bring him to the zoo? I think I should probably just leave him alone but I'm so afraid something is going to happen to him."
"Sir?" replied the zookeeper, "You do realize that this is a wild animal."
"And that learning how to fly is a natural process?"
"Then you should probably just leave him alone. He'll learn. No offense, but your presence in the yard might be frightening him."
Dad no longer followed the magpie around the yard. He did, however, watch him vigilantly from the living room window, just to make sure a rogue cat didn't turn him into lunch.
The next day I got a call at my summer job. It was my father. He never called me at work. "Dad? Is everything okay?"
"Heather, have you seen Morey?"
"Yes, Morey... Morey the Magpie."
"You named the bird?"
"I saw him this morning but now I can't find him. I've walked the yard three times. I even looked in the tree but he's not around. I'm worried."
"You named the bird?"
"I'm very worried about him."
"Maybe he finally learned how to fly."
There was a long pause. "I hope so."
"Dad, it's lunch rush. I have eight tables. Gotta go."
Driving home from work, my Psychology 101 class finally paid off. It wasn't about the magpie. It was about his own little fledglings who were leaving the nest. It was about my brother and me.
Dad felt as helpless as the mommy and daddy bird watching in the tree. He couldn't make us fly once we left the nest. He couldn't will us to be successful and happy. He couldn't ward off the tabby cats.
In fact, once we left his nest, he could only watch from his own branch, provide love and support and hope for the best.
No wonder he named the bird.
I got home and found him looking out the kitchen window.
"Did you find Morey?"
"No, but I also didn't find any feathers or signs of a fight. So I think he's okay. I think he might have learned how to fly."
"Of course he did. He had very good parents who raised him well, loved him and taught him how to catch worms. They made a nice cozy, warm nest. When it came time to fly, he already knew how to soar."
My dad had big tears in his eyes. "Well, I'm still going to miss him."
I snickered. "You're a funny dad."
The summer was spent playing, laughing and enjoying time as a family. Dad never did find Morey. I would point out a magpie and ask, "Is that him?"
"No, that's not Morey."
"Dad, it's a magpie. You really can't tell the difference, can you?"
"Of course I can. We bonded."
Soon it was the end of August. Bags were packed and it was time for my brother and me to leave the nest. In the end, Dad had nothing to worry about. He raised his little fledglings well....And we flew.
Heather Simms Schichtel
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad [Changing Lives One Story At A Time]
An awesome story and an awesome testament honoring her father. We each need to reflect on our parents and those who have made a difference in our lives.
Life is a process. We each grow at different rates and at different rates in different areas. These life stories are an encouragement to tarry on...It's not over until we quit. Every day is a new start.
One Father's Sacrifice
Any man can be a father. It takes someone willing to stick it out to be a dad.
If you asked anyone about my relationship with my dad, they would tell you that I am Daddy's little girl. He rarely said "I love you" or "I'm proud of you," but I always knew that he believed in me. Even though he wasn't a very affectionate man, I never questioned his love for me.
His primary role was as the provider for our family. It meant Dad worked many hours at a local tire plant and wasn't home much. That didn't change how I felt about him. I idolized him, like most girls do when it comes to their fathers. We had a special bond that even my mom didn't understand, a bond that I cannot describe to this day.
But things in our family would change. In the fall of my senior year in high school, my mom decided to leave our family for a man she had met on the Internet many months before. This turned my world upside down and devastated my dad. I lost my mom that night, and I needed Dad more than ever.
Fortunately, our relationship as a family bloomed. We began eating dinner together, going to church together, and spending time together. The special bond between us grew even stronger that year and would continue to do so throughout my four years in college.
When I began choosing a college that January, Dad told me that I could attend any school I wanted. To his surprise, I chose a very expensive private university about an hour and a half from our home. I was awarded enough scholarships to cover half of my tuition and fees, but Dad would still have to pay the rest. When I told him this, all he said was, "Okay." He had made a promise, and he was going to keep it.
I started school that fall, and I loved it! I excelled in my classes and joined activities that forced me out of my comfort zone. I participated in student government, campus ministries, and other things that not only strengthened my organizational and people skills, but also required me to conquer my fear of public speaking.
Through it all, Dad was always there. When I needed money, Dad would send it in an envelope marked "Daddy Moneybags." It made me laugh every time. He even drove to school to take me shopping for a new homecoming dress.
There were times when Dad's sacrifices made me feel guilty. But one Sunday, I came to understand why he did the things he did for me. I sat in church that morning listening to the pastor speak about the meaning of a shepherd warrior, when one of the points on the outline grabbed me. It said, "A shepherd loves sacrificially." The pastor described a sacrifice as "giving up something you love for something you love even more."
At that moment, I finally understood. Dad loved me so much that he was giving me what I wanted no matter what it cost him. He sacrificed so I could attend a school I loved, and he did so without question or complaint. To him, allowing me to go to this school was more than keeping a promise; it was his way of showing his love for me. His love, along with the love of those around me, helped me complete this chapter in my life.
A few short weeks later, Dad watched me accept my two Bachelor's Degrees, one in Biology and one in Psychology. Like always, he didn't say much. He just let me relish my accomplishment. With a hug following the ceremony, Dad told me what I needed to know: he was proud of me and would always be regardless of what I did in my life.
I thank God for my dad every day. I thank God for the countless hours Dad and I spent in the car driving to and from school on the weekends and holidays as we talked and listened to our favorite radio program. I thank God for the notes, my favorite fruit, and the chocolate rose Dad hid in my laundry or grocery bags to remind me that he loved me.
I thank Him for the hugs I got just before Dad would leave when he took me back to school, and I thank Him for Dad coming to see me for no other reason than because he missed me. I thank Him for the large basket of goodies Dad brought me during finals week because he forgot to purchase a ready-made "survival kit" from the school. He overflowed the basket with chocolate candy bars, crackers, and chips. He even glued fabric to the basket to make it more special!
It is said that your earthly father is a reflection of the Heavenly Father here on earth. He protects you from those who might hurt you. He corrects you when you are wrong. He guides you as you become the person you are supposed to be. He loves you even when it seems that no one else does. I see the Father in my father's sacrifice. I see God's love through my dad's love, and I thank God for blessing me with such a wonderful man -- a man I call Dad.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad
Every dad is different, even more so than mothers. Mothers have that common ground of a mother's love, even though circumstances and lifestyles dictate how they weave that common thread through the fabric of life, most of us not only knew it was there, but depended on it throughout life.
We don't write much about dads. For most of us, dads weren't nearly as predominant in our daily lives as moms.
For us, we were dirt poor and for most of our life, our home was a shanty; but if mom was home and happy, life was good. Dad was our background mechanism take made it all work.
There were 14 of us kids and I think most of us when we were younger, not only loved dad but were grateful he and mom grinded it out and kept us a family. But I think we were glad dad worked a lot and thus was not at home much. He was gruff. But as we grew older, we realized just how great of a sacrifice he made for us.
Dad's dad was a machinist and was crippled in a machinery accident, so three boys and a girl grew up very poor. Dad joined the Army at the beginning of WW II and found out he had tuberculosis.
He spent the next five years in a sanitarium, given up to die many times and the best the doctors had to offer him was hack saw therapy. They removed seven ribs and one and a quarter lungs. Dad was supposed to do light work and the doctors predicted he only had a few years to work and would die young.
Dad became a mechanic, specializing in changing engines and transmissions. Mechanics didn't make much in those days and he had to work long hours to support a wife and 14 kids.
With 9 boys, our teenage years were very hard on him. While we didn't steal or whatever, we were arrested quite a few times for drinking and driving. When we would call mom and ask her to ask dad to get us out, he would say,"I'm not going! I'm not going!" and inbetween breaths he would say, "Where's my shoes?"
So in many ways, he was our anchor and foundation that made it all work and it came from a very good heart in a body that hurt all the time.
Dad was always there for us, right up to the day he died of cancer at the age of 59. Moms are awesome and worthy of all the praise they receive and more; but we don't praise dads nearly enough.
I am glad Chicken Soup for the Soul decided to to a book on dads and these two authors that contributed to it.
Have a great day!