When I was a little girl, I fell from our tree swing. I was gently picked up and carried into the house where Band-Aids were carefully placed on my scuffed-up knees. My tears were dried with methodic tender dabs.  Through my sobs, I could hear the calming and reassuring words of my father, who we called Papa, “It’s alright, Pee Wee.  You’ll be just fine.  No more tears, now,” he said.

This was one instance of the many rescues my father took part in throughout my girlhood years.

It doesn’t seem that long ago. I was his front-seat passenger, tagging along while he did his errands and visited friends. On the way home, I would sing and sing, making up songs as we drove along.  I had, and still do have, a gravelly voice. To make matters worse, I am tone deaf. I don’t know how Papa had the patience to listen to my made-up songs, sung completely out of tune. He had a wonderful voice. It warms my heart remembering my mother at the piano and Papa singing.  His voice was deep and rich with a soft French accent.

When the scraped knee season of my life passed, it was time for some serious guidance from my father.  His forever watchful eyes made sure I was chumming with the right choice of friends. My friends liked him, and this made me very proud.

We didn’t have long conversations to get to know one another.  I would get his slippers for him in the evening and sit on the footstool beside his chair while he read.  Somehow, we knew each other’s hearts without uttering a word.

My father wasn’t a flashy, ego-ridden man; he was quiet, earthy and thoughtful.  His opinions, which I listened to and absorbed, were spoken with emotion and passion.  He was a man who believed in hard work and he was proud to say no one ever handed him anything.

I made mistakes growing up.  Some decisions I made during my new-found independence were disastrous.  Papa’s advice and support always came from a tender, caring viewpoint.

Criticism of me was not in his nature.  He knew I was my toughest critic. If I had made a bad choice, he had a way of conveying his faith in me and gave me the confidence that all would work out well.  It was a time of trust and compassion that cushioned those difficult years for me.

As I grew into a young woman, he began to grace his senior years.  He spent many sunny afternoons sitting in the park, watching people going by and perhaps thinking of his own life’s joys and sorrows.

Papa died some years ago, leaving an inheritance of love for his children and many descendants.  I still celebrate Father’s Day, for I know he can see me and hear me.  I still have that special feeling that his watchful eyes are protecting me from a heavenly body, not very far away.

My father, my hero — loving and wise — and truly a great reason to always celebrate Father’s Day.

Yvonne Lancaster is an editor and human resources consultant from Leominster, Mass. She lost her son when he was 19 years old. Reach Yvonne at yelancaster@hotmail.com

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Yvonne Lancaster

Born in Worcester, MA, Yvonne is a former newspaper columnist and is the recipient of numerous writing awards from United Press International, Massachusetts Press Association and New England Press Association for her column From the Heart. Currently, she writes short stories, poetry and is a still life painter. She is co-author of Every Step of the Way: How Four Mother’s Coped with Child Loss (2006) and From the Heart, Sketches from Life (1985). She was named Woman of the Year by the Business and Professional Women of America. She is currently working on her first novel. Her website is http://www.yvonnelancaster.com.

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