Learning from my Four Fathers

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/vitchananFour Fathers

I get a haunting pit in my stomach now when Father’s Day approaches. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday, but working at a mortuary puts a twist on how you see special days like these. Every phone call has the potential to be a child/spouse letting us know that their father/husband has passed on. Or worse yet, a father is calling to inquire about how he should go about honoring his lost child. It’s a day I would rather not work but it does remind me how blessed I am to still have my dad around.

Today I want to honor the four father figures in my life by acknowledging a singular trait that I most admire in each of them.

Perhaps you will feel inspired to consider the lessons your father figures have taught you.

Sacrifice: A father makes sacrifices for their family. My own father is a perfect example. I cant tell you how many miles he has driven, or how many hours of overtime he has worked, to make sure us kids were always comfortable. The amazing thing about my dad is that he did all of this while still being active in our lives. There have been times where my dad has gone more than 24 hours without sleep, yet I still knew if I turned and looked behind the backstop at my little league game, I would see him watching and I could hear his voice cheering me on. I was ignorant of the sacrifice growing up, but now that I’m older and have begun making sacrifices for my loved ones, my appreciation has grown ten-fold for my “old man”.

A father makes sacrifices for their family.

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/strixcode Wisdom: A father will always share his wisdom. My stepfather is the wisest man I have ever met. The lessons he has learned in life have always been shared with me so that I could learn from them, and perhaps avoid making the same mistake. When I get into situation where I have a hard time making a decision, his voice and reason echo in my head, and help me to the right path. This is a gift I cannot give back, but I can surely pass it on, and for that I am most grateful.

A father will always share his wisdom.

Patience: A father is patient. This one is the most difficult. My uncle, Terry, is a very, VERY, patient man. He has this amazing ability to actually sit and think hard on what he is going to say or decide before he actually does it. The result? A soft tone when he disciplines his children, and an undeniable trust from his superiors. His children know that their father is not quick to judge them of harshly discipline them, and his bosses know they can trust him to take his time and make the right decision in any situation. I have yet to meet someone with the quiet strength of my uncle.

A father is patient.

Humor: A father is never too serious. My uncle Roy is the funniest person in my family. He is serious when need be, but he believes that this world is a funny place and it should be laughed at. It’s amazing to watch his children’s eyes light up as he re-tells a story, or watch his wife burst into laughter as he whispers something in her ear. All of this, for the sake of a punch line. My uncle Roy is a very successful man, and I think much of that success is from his decision to never take life, or himself, too seriously.

A father is never too serious.

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/maxmihaiI am truly lucky to say I have these prolific men in my life. There is always someone there to make time for me, someone to give me wisdom, someone to be patient with my mistakes, and someone always willing to make me smile.

Dad, Kev, Terry and Roy, I love you. Happy Father’s Day.

|| what do you think?

Who are you celebrating this Father’s Day?

What lessons have your father-figures taught you?

Michael

About Michael

I started working for O’Connor Mortuary in December of 2012. At first I was working as a part-time service assistant just as a second job, but soon I found that I had fallen in love with process of a memorial service and the staff I work with. I was recently hired to a full-time position, and I'm now a Service Director. On my time off I enjoy playing softball, disc golf, and spending time with friends.
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  • Joe Lavoie

    Michael
    I agree my father has been a great inspiration to me especially since there were eight of us to raise and he was the sole provider for us all. My parents both made a great team but if you had a car breakdown or a question of what to do no matter what it was my father was a man of sound mind, judgement and a great resource and support. I am honored that my father also served 23 years in the US Navy and that is an important part of his history my family came from a simple life as an only child and has always been my inspiration and I am glad we have a special day to honor him and I will always continue his legacy with my children and pass on his story . I will be celebrating that day with my dad who is 91 now and cherish every story he shares. Thank you so much for sharing michael I do appreciate your story.
    Sincerely Joe Lavoie

    • Michael Thomas

      What a cool back story on your dad, Joe. Thank you for sharing. Happy Fathers Day!

  • Anne

    Michael,
    What a beautiful tribute to your “dads” and how wonderful you have four to fill that role for you. As I read the title of your blog, I mentally changed “four fathers” to “Forefathers” and went off in a whole new thought pattern.
    Blessings can follow for many generations to the wise who learn. I see you as one who will pass on good things to another generation.
    My dad’s legacy as well as my mother’s lives on in me. I can readily think of three things: Daddy died the year I turned five. I was with him such a short time, but in the 62 years without him, I have chosen to follow God closely. (He was a minister and taught our family at home as well as in the pulpit the ways of God.) I sang on the radio and in church for many years. (He was very musically talented, singing and playing any instrument he could obtain.) He was affectionate and open with others and loved people, especially the downtrodden. (I feel the same way, with a tendency to cheer for the underdog.)
    So, as you grow to the place of having your own family, may you put your family first, make wise decisions, be patient with them and yourself, and laugh at the mistakes you will all make.
    Love
    Annie

    • Michael Thomas

      What a perfect application to the things I’ve learned, Annie. You just made it all that much easier to apply all 4 things at once instead of focusing on one at a time. Thank you so much for your kind heart and wisdom. Lots of love,

      Michael

  • Michael,
    I love this blog & your heart of thankfulness to the men who have loved and invested in you.

    Like you I have my darling dad who, in my mind, is unsurpassed by any father I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen him love me through patience, listening and time spent. I’ve also watched him open himself up to things that interested me just so that he could know more about my heart & passions. He’s wonderful & dear to my heart.

    I’ve grown up surrounded by wonderful men, my grandfather, my 2 hilarious and generous uncles, and my sweet father-in-law who I adore.

    WE ARE BLESSED! Thank you for opening this holiday up to a celebration of wonderful men and not just limit it to our dad’s – the more the merrier, I love when I can see with more clarity the depth of my blessings.

    Thank you!!

    Molly

    • Michael Thomas

      I can see the love you and Jeff share or each other just by the way you talk to each other. Its a joy to work with the two of you.

  • Kari Lyn Leslie

    Michael,

    I’m so thankful to have a son who is steadfast, respectful, and obedient. You have always been a joy to me, and it is such a pleasure to watch and learn about you as an adult. Thank you for sharing from your soul. I know first hand how much these guys mean to you. You have never known any different, they have been with you all the way. What a tribute to these irreplaceable men and the gifts they have bestowed upon you. You are on your way to being the best of all four.

    I love you, to the moon and back
    Mom

    • Michael Thomas

      Irreplaceable is the perfect word for all of them. Couldn’t have it any other way. Love you too.

  • Amy

    Michael,
    You are wise beyond your years. Some of us are blessed to have one “father” in our life. Like you I have had 2 very special father’s in my life. Each of them has given me something I will cherish forever. Unfortunately this year I will celebrate my dad at his grave visiting and cherishing the many memories that we have created over the years. My dad meant the world to me. He was my cheerleader, my counselor, my disciplinarian, my hero and my everything. This father’s day will be a very different one but will start the new chapter without him.
    Be proud of yourself and continue to allow yourself to grow.
    Amy

    • Michael Thomas

      It was an honor and a privilege to direct Pop’s services. This fathers day is going to be difficult. Tell Gram I love her, and give the girls a hug for me.

  • Neil

    Hi Michael –
    My Dad has taught me so many lessons over my life. I think the one of the lessons I admire him most of is his faith. I know he prayers to make good decisions in his life. I have seen him make good decisions his entire life. The other quality I see in my Dad is his compassion for people. My Dad has always given to charities and helped the needy. Last month we went to lunch and a lady who barely spoke english asked him for a ride home, and he said sure, without thinking about it. I will be celebrating fathers day at the beach with our family. Thank you for sharing the men in your life and what they have taught you.
    Happy Fathers Day to you and your Father(s)!!!

    • Michael Thomas

      Big Joe is definitely the perfect role model to grow up with. Since Ive been working here, I have started to see the similarities between you two and its pretty cool to see such powerful morals passed down between father and son. Happy Fathers Day Neil!

  • Jeff Turner

    Michael,
    What a wonderful way of weaving together the significance of fatherhood by paying tribute to these four men who have obviously had uniquely profound influences in you life. My own father was so dedicated to family experiencing life together and he was intentional insuring that we did just that. He was an adventurer, a lover of people and an educator.

    Joe O’Connor has been a profound father figure to me in ways that are unique from those of my own father. Joe’s ability get the best from me and to do so with kindness and compassion when I didn’t measure up has touched me deeply.

    There are many others I can point to as well who have left their own specific imprint upon my life and I am grateful for those sacred moments and appointments that they kept with me.

    Thank you for writing this most poignant tribute to your father’s.

    Jeff

    • Michael Thomas

      Based on the stories and things Molly tells me, you haven’t been to bad of a dad yourself 🙂

      Thanks Jeff. and I’m glad you have had such strong positive influence from male role models in your life, just as I have. Happy Fathers day!

  • Joanna

    Michael,

    Very sweet tribute to your fathers!! I enjoyed reading your post. Myself, I never been much for Father’s Day. I have never been much for Father’s Day. My dad was not much of a father so now a days I “Celebrate” Father’s Day for Joaquin. Watching him instill his Wisdom, Humor and Patience into Malia little soul is beautiful to watch. And to watch Malia take it all in, for she is after all daddy’s little girl, is heart quenching. I love it. Maybe because I didn’t have that as a daughter, it amazes me to see it in my own daughter. Nonetheless, as is with life, things change. Oddly enough, my father has become the best grandpa a gal can ask for!! So, he has made up for it.

    Again, sweet blog,

    Joanna.

    • Michael Thomas

      I’m glad everything has come around for your little one! I feel sorry for you missing out as a kid, but I think you would agree with me when i say its so awesome to “start new” with Malia, and move past your childhood memories. Thanks JoJo!

  • Becky Finch Lomaka

    Hi Michael,
    Thank you for a wonderful blog! I, too, have gained a much stronger appreciation for my Dad and the sacrifices he made for our family now that I am older. I know Sunday will be a difficult day for him, as it will be his first Father’s Day since my brother died. It will be a day of memories, supporting him and helping him through. The “firsts” after a death of a loved one are always the worst.

    Sunday will also be filled with the joy of celebrating my husband, who is an incredible father to our two boys. Since the day our oldest son was born, he has been a natural as this fatherhood thing. He is the quiet leader of our family; one of the things I love most about him is that his actions speak volumes. Although he easily expresses his love for our family verbally, it’s his daily actions that continue to show me and our sons how very loved we are by him. I hope we can shower him with love to let him know we feel the same about him!

    Becky

    • Michael Thomas

      I agree, your husband is an awesome dude.

      I hope that this fathers day brings your dad joy with the love he receives from his family, but is also healing as he still grieves for your brother. A big special Happy Fathers day to Mr. Finch from me 🙂

  • Shayna Mallik

    Michael,
    What a great blog, as always. I really have enjoyed each and every blog you write but really enjoyed learning about the four father figures you have in your life. This Father’s Day as usual I will be celebrating my dad. Who has done and will do everything for his family and his kids. Growing up whatever my sister and I wanted to do we did no matter what. This even went on when I started horseback riding and in the end wanting my own horse to train. Even though lessons, shows,then buying a horse and just paying the up keep was extremely expensive my dad never hesitated, him and my mom knew it was something I loved and they loved watching me smile. Once owning a horse this meant after my dads sometimes 12 hours or longer days at work when he came home we ate dinner as a family and then all went to the stables, my parents watched me ride and cleaned the stall. No matter what he made my dream of succeeding in Dressage and training my horse possible. Now as I got older I realized how much it really was and slowly took on some financial responsibilities but still nothing compared to theirs. Even at my wedding and still today my dad and I share the great stories and memories of our days, nights at the stables and our relationship is so strong and special because of it. I thank my dad everyday for what he has done for me and know I always have him by my side when I need him.

    Thanks for sharing
    Shayna

    • Michael Thomas

      What a cool connection with your dad. My dad and I always have our best conversations when we put on our gloves and go play catch. I know that this, like your stable talks, will always be remembered and cherished by me forever.

  • Mitch

    Michael, great blog. You are indeed blessed to have 4 great male figures in your life. They must be upstanding and solid in their convictions. Every family needs these role models to pass down the way boys/men should behave. Now pass it down another generation. great job.

    • Michael Thomas

      Will do, Sir! You seem to be the patient type. You’re awfully lucky.

  • Stacy

    Beautifully written blog Michael! I enjoyed reading about the four father figures in your life. This blog made me think a lot about my dad and all he has done for me and my sisters/nephew. You are definitely right in saying that when you are young you can easily take all the sacrifices done by your parents for granted. Reading your blog made me realize that there is so much my dad has done for my well being. Thank you for sharing.

    • Michael Thomas

      Thank you Stacy! I’m glad your dad has been such a positive influence in your life. The things we learn from them repeat themselves through us, which is awesome! i’m guessing your dad is a hard worker and has good taste in music 😉

  • Lori

    Michael,
    I will honestly admit to you that it took me awhile to respond to your blog. Knowing that it was related to Father’s Day made me stay clear for a few days. As you can imagine, Father’s Day has been my least favorite holiday for forty years. There is typically a dark cloud that hovers over this day for me.
    This morning I decided it was time to give your post the attention and response it deserves. I am pleasantly surprised that it did not make me one bit sad. It made me happy for you that you have these four positive influences in your life. It also made me realize I need to work on being more like Terry and Roy – patient and less serious, at times, about life…
    I hope all four of these men have had the opportunity to read your post.
    Nicely written and thank you for starting this Father’s Day for me with a feeling of gratitude for the positive male figures I DO have in my life…….
    Great job!
    Lori

    • Michael Thomas

      When I think about it, Lori, I would have done the same. I probably would have treated it as one of those “Sorry, I never got around to it..” kind of things. I take absolutely NO offense.

      Patience is something I am going to constantly be working on. I find its more of a situational thing for me, rather than a daily practice. Lets work on that together 🙂

      • Lori

        Sounds good to me!! 🙂

  • Tom

    My father died about 2 years ago and I’ll always embrace the lesson of gratitude for the experiences we had as a family.

    • Michael Thomas

      Oh wow Tom. Im sorry I didn’t know that. I’m glad that you have made that embrace and cherish those precious memories.

  • Michael Thomas

    Happy Fathers day Mark, as you keep moving in and out of chapters in your life. Thank you for your fatherly support as I learn and grow here at O’connors.

  • Erin Fodor

    Nice blog Michael. Wonderful to hear the lessons you have been taught.
    -Erin

    • Michael Thomas

      I know this holiday is tough and it always will be. You are always going to have a +1 in the strength section when comparing to me, because I really don’t know what it is like to lose that bond. I’m proud of who you are today, and I can’t even imagine how amazing of a person you would if dad’s luck had changed that day. You are strong, independent, and loyal, and I admire you for it. Thank you Erin.

      Michael

  • Elsa

    Michael,
    Great Blog. It is always nice to see the celebration and acknowledgment made to great fathers out there. Our family always enjoy’s the special time we have together on this very special day.

    • Michael Thomas

      Thank you Elsa. Wish your Pops a happy fathers day for me 🙂

  • Lauren

    Thank you for writing this blog! Father’s Day is about recognizing and celebrating not just our dads but all the men in our lives that have had an impact on us. You have great people in your life, thank you for sharing. This Father’s Day was a little different than the other ones but it was still good to spend time with my dad and to see him laugh.

    • Michael Thomas

      The laughter part is my favorite, if you couldn’t tell already. It’s why I pick on you so much 😉 Your smile and laughter is so much nicer than your frowns and sighs 🙂

  • Rosemary

    Thank you, Michael!
    This is a beautifully written blog entry! It is so great that you can recognize and acknowledge the men who have such a big impact on your life. Happy Father’s Day to each of them!
    Rosemary

    • Michael Thomas

      Thank you Rosemary! These guys deserve it! and Happy Fathers day to your husband!

  • Fitz

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for sharing about the role models in your life. Father’s have such an immense impact on their children’s growth and development. Whenever I find myself at a response or decision crossroad with my children, I often ask myself what my father would do. Usually, therein lies my answer. I can only hope my kids will glean the good stuff from me as they continue on their own journey.
    Fitz

    • Michael Thomas

      You’re a great dad Fitz. I love how you still make time to go to most if not all of your kids sporting events. Thats a big impact maker in a kids eyes, trust me.

  • Shasta Cola

    Nice blog, Michael. You are lucky to have so many father figures with great lessons to offer! My stepdad Randy has taught a lot about patience and sacrifice, as well as humor…He has taken on the role of keeping everything going in the family, becoming somewhat the foundation of our household. I have watched him grow into that role throughout my life, since I was about 8 years old but most recently after my grandma died who was definitely in the position before…and the patience he exhibited throughout the whole struggle with Casey’s addiction was really amazing. The humor is one of the most important things he has taught me, always one to listen and keep me sane throughout the chaos of our family at times. Thanks for the great blog as always!

    • Michael Thomas

      I’m so happy for you Shasteroo. The bond you share will not be the same as say a birth father/daughter thing, but it has the potential to be even better because of the mutual respect that has to grow between you. My stepdad Kev and I came to the conclusion that we are better friends than father and son, and that mutual understanding has grown into a wonderful relationship. I’ve met your stepdad and he was awesome. What a gift 🙂

  • Christopher Iverson

    Michael,
    Sincerely I advise you to cherish these relationships. They will strengthen you character, habits and will shape the way you parent your own children in the future. I do not celebrate my father because he is neither willing, nor available to be a positive piece of my and my daughter’s lives. Fortunately, I am celebrated very well by my daughters. Their love and pride in me as their father is in direct proportion to my love and commitment to them throughout the years.

    • Michael Thomas

      Thank you Chris. I can tell how good of a dad you are just by the way you spread your advice and love around the office. I hope your fathers day was wonderful, and that the passion your daughters have for making you feel special exceeds the boundaries of one day and continues throughout the year!