Celebrating Fathers and Service Members

With Memorial Day at the end of May, and Father’s Day just around the corner in June, our Change Matrix team took time to reflect on the importance of fathers, father figures, service members, and veterans in our lives.

Tennille – Fathers are an important part in a child’s life and greatly underrated. I thank my husband constantly for not only being a great father to his children but for also loving mine as if they were his biological children. He’s a great example to his, mine, and ours. I couldn’t be the mother I am without his help.

Jennifer – Fatherhood is an essential role in life. Yes, fathers can have different parenting styles than mothers. That brings a beautiful, safe space while expanding the experience of children.

Sandra – A father’s impact is often underestimated. My father has been the most influential person in my life. He is the hardest working person I’ve ever known. As a child, I saw him in the typical role of providing financially for his family. As I got older and we grew closer, my father became my biggest champion. When other parents expected their children to stay close to home, he stressed the importance of pursuing my education and encouraged me to move 2,000 miles away from home. And though I was unsure of myself, I felt that he knew I would succeed.  I will always be grateful for his sacrifice and the foundation he provided me.

Rachele – All throughout my life, my dad has modeled for me what is like to work hard and play hard to pursue your interests and passions – from his weekend tennis matches, tinkering in the basement with electronic kits, puzzle making, bowling on Thursday nights, and poker nights to his later passion for golf and love of travel. I know that early on, this encouraged me to experiment and explore, to try something new even though I might not succeed at first. I know we don’t get to choose our parents, so I will be forever grateful that I got to be his daughter.

Elizabeth -My father is my hero.  He is truly the most generous, humble, hard-working person that I know.  He grew up working hard on a farm, put himself through college and medical school working construction and on a road crew.  After a year as a doctor in the war in Vietnam, as he perfected his craft as a surgeon, he began to go around the world supporting doctors to take care of patients with orthopedic needs.  That was beginning of SIGN Fracture Care International, where he has invented fracture implants that work without imaging. Surgeons all over the world know how to use this system that he continues to donate and a quarter million people are walking because of his persistence and generosity.  In the midst of all of that, he is unwavering in his support me and my family. He taught me to be curious, compassionate and relentless in the pursuit of justice. I just love that man!

Suganya – My father was a man of contradictions.  He grew up dirt poor, child to parents who were brought by the British to work in the rubber estates in Malaya. He experienced deprivation, hardship, and the Japanese occupation during World War II. He managed to get a scholarship to go to medical school and in his lifetime transformed the lives for his parents, his siblings, and his wife and children. He was an Asian conservative and yet told his girls to become and remain financially independent and secure, and pushed us to excel in everything we did. He also shared this philosophy “There are many paths to get to the light on top of the hill. In does not matter which path you take – it is only important that you work towards getting to the top of the hill”. I always took this to mean – that there are many different perspectives in life – not necessarily right or wrong just different.

Shannon –  We referred to my father in his later years as the ancient warrior. He was a veteran of the US armed services and served during the Korean conflict.  He was stationed in the South Pacific. It was only later in life that he shared some of his experiences from that time with us. We called him the ancient warrior not based solely on his military service. He was a warrior for civil rights, religious freedom, and equity. He was a warrior for the environment and promoted the first earth day, built solar panels out of recycled cans and made sure we had sufficient time in the natural world. Most of all he was a warrior for his family. There was never a moment when I did not know I was loved by him.  It was and is among the certainties of my life. My other reflection is on my sons and their roles as fathers. They understand that the most important role they have in life is that of parenting and my proudest parenting moments in life center around their acceptance and fulfillment based on that knowledge.

Alina – My dad’s birthday and Father’s day are both in the same month, so June is always all about him.  This year is a big birthday for him – although he always says you’re only as old as you feel, so he’s been 42 for quite a while now!  I’ll also celebrate my grandpa M, who passed away two years ago this month. He often embodied the “steely” soldier well, likely influenced by his years in service, but who also occasionally shared stories and our mutual love for photography.  I’m grateful for that time I was able to spend with him, and recognize that not all of those with fathers, grandfathers, veteran family members, or those with family members in service are afforded the same opportunity. Take care of and celebrate those who have given us much in our lives!

Karla – Enrolling in the military and working for law enforcement agencies has been mostly confined to men, due to historic gender limitations. For this reason, our men – and many of our fathers – have had to ship off to war, sacrifice time with family and put their lives in constant risk. This memorial day, I am reminded of the many lives impacted by the commitment and sacrifice our service members and law enforcement officers made, and still make everyday. From the families they leave behind to the unfortunate loss of lives, their valor in executing their role as our emergency responders is a commitment that should be honored throughout the year.

London – While in elementary school, my dad was often the only male parent that visited during the day to assist the teacher with different classroom tasks and chaperone field trips. He had a flexible work schedule that allowed him to do this, and it felt special to include him in my daily routine outside of home. I often reflect on how fortunate I was to have my dad so involved in my childhood, and I see a similar situation playing out in my home today. For the first four years of our eldest’s son’s life, my husband stayed home every Thursday from work to be with him. My husband has a different job now that doesn’t allow him to take a day off each week, yet he is intentional about scheduling “daddy days” with each of our children – especially during the summer. It makes my heart happy to see my children enveloped by so much love and I know first hand the lasting impact that will have on them.