I would like to talk about fathers. I apologize to the mothers of the world in advance.
I became a father for the third time on October 2. Audrey Michelle Hale weighed 9 pounds, 4 ounces, was 21 inches tall, and is by all accounts a healthy, happy baby girl. Research indicates that 50% of all babies born in 2013 will live to see 100. The amount of parenting I will have to do is tremendous, to get her there, and not just get there but get there smart and kind and happy.
When you are a father, you learn that some things you do by instinct are good and right, and others must be tempered away by hard experience. When you are a father, you learn that it's all hard work, some of it unpleasant, most if it unappreciated, and all of it unglamorous. When you are a father, you learn to love your children for who they are and not who you want them to be, and to recognize the difference. And most of all, when you are a father, you learn that your main job is to raise your children to not need fathers anymore, and what's more to become fathers themselves, to pay forward that hard work and hard experience and hard-earned knowledge into .. well, who knows what, but that's never stopped us before.
Now that I'm a father, I think of my own father constantly, how he's guided me in imperceptible ways, what he's done for me that I never gave a second thought to, and then when he is around Audrey and Sophia and Grayson I see him putting on old hats he hasn't worn in years, and dusting off new tricks he's learned, and then I think of his father, my grandfather, and his father, and all of the fathers who got me here, and not just get here but get here hopefully smart and hopefully kind, but certainly happy.
They're gone now, those fathers, but that is the wonderful thing about fathering - even when they're gone they leave themselves behind in every thing they've touched and loved, and when we need help we know where to find them again, if we just look hard enough.
I hope when the day comes that Audrey loses her father that she feels the same way about me that I do about Danny - that he was what we needed, and that he loved us, and that he was a wonderful father.