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In praise of fathers

By Yvonne Nyenhuis

Mon, Jun 4th, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

By Yvonne Nyenhuis

There are two things I’m addicted to, ice-cream and Book TV on C-Span. Recently I watched Bay Buchanan introduce a book she has written of her experience as a single mother raising three sons. As her story unfolded, I realized how lucky I am to have a husband who is also a great father to our three boys.

Gordon arrived first. He was a mini miracle, the size of a football. Within the hour home from the hospital, Glenn sat holding him wrapped in a soft yellow receiving blanket. He looked down at the pixie face and wise eyes peering up at him and proceeded to tell Gordon of his expectations for his future. Gordon’s entrance into the world was followed by Eric and Troy; three boys within four years.

We thought that if we kept them busy growing up we could keep them out of trouble. We enrolled them in sports programs in Bryant Square from the time they were six. Because they were close in age they were often on the same teams: football, ice hockey and wrestling. We spent days in hot, sweaty gyms and endured freezing temperatures watching hockey tournaments. (I stood on a telephone book to insulate my feet in the ice and snow.)

Glenn would frown when he saw how much I was spending on their sports equipment. I soon learned to include him on our shopping sprees. When he went along he would buy what was best without regard for the cost.

Injuries were frequent. Gordon slammed into the boards at the skating rink. The sharp point of a skate gauged out a hole in his knee. As the blood spilled out on the ice I called Glenn, who left work and was there in minutes. He applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, swept Gordon up in his arms and whisked him off to the hospital.

Troy, when he was in high school, was wrestling at South High. He was pinned, shoulders to the mat, his body suspended in the air. Something had gone horribly wrong. He lay there, unable to move. In a flash, Glenn was beside him, looking down into a pair of frightened eyes. He was able to calm and reassure Troy and stayed with him in the ambulance as they wended their way though a blinding snowstorm to the hospital. Troy’s neck was broken. Glenn didn’t leave his side until he was asleep for the night.

My husband loved nature and Lanesboro. We spent many weekends in a shack on top of a bluff three miles from town.We would park in the valley near the road and carry food, water and gear up the steep incline on the east side of the mountain.Our Springer, Greco, had his own small, bright blue backpack and carried his own food and water bowls. We all did our part. The boys conducted a search for firewood and Glenn soon had flames dancing and leaping from the black dirt bottom of the pit. We settled ourselves on lawn chairs around the fire.

Glenn speared two plump chickens on a stick about twenty-six inches in length. He had stripped a couple of branches of their bark, and made them Y-shaped.These were driven into the ground on either side of the fire to support the rod with the chickens. Meanwhile the sun, which flooded the western sky with clouds infused with all the colors of the rainbow, said a final goodbye and disappeared from view. Outside the circle of light from the fire, the night grew black around us. Above, through the dark branches a myriad of stars looked down on us with a clarity and brilliance that was breathtaking.

Glenn taught the boys to hunt and fish. He shared with them his love of cooking. I realized when I thought about it, he didn’t preach to the boys, he led by example. As long as children are nurtured and valued, they will grow to be successful and happy in their lives, even without a Father in residence. But today, we celebrate Fathers. With their strength, courage and wisdom they lay a foundation for the lives of their children.

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