When I count my blessings, my father is one of the first on my list. He was a man of grace, humility, determination and tenacity. His story is one to fill a book. He was a mild man but his influence was monumental.
His work took him all over the state working with entrepreneurs. He met governors and other influential men. When an accident left my father severely disabled, these men came together to support him and his recovery.
I remember the day my mother was in the middle of spring cleaning and a long black car pulled into the driveway. A man in a black suit came to the door to tell my mother the bishop was in the car and he would like to come in to see my dad. You can imagine the mortification my mother suffered with the house a mess and a bishop at the front door.
My father never smoked or swore and I cannot remember a time he raised his voice. It was the respect we had for him that kept my brothers and me in line. In my mind, I will always see him sitting in his chair every day as he remembered others in his prayers.
Another blessing I count is the father my husband has been to our children. I think women who marry men in the mold of their fathers have a great chance to have a successful family.
Another blessing is the parents our three children have become. Our son has been the custodial parent to his four children for almost 10 years. He has balanced work and parenthood with amazing grace.
Our daughters have married men like their father and grandfathers. These young men are unique and it is delightful to watch them as they mold and maneuver our grandchildren through the growing process.
One of our sons-in-law is a firefighter. When I received an e-mail about a petition for a National Firefighters Day I signed it and forwarded the e-mail to our son-in-law. This father of three of our grandchildren sent back the following:
"I want to say thank you for your participation in the cause of a National Firefighters Day. My personal feelings and I think the majority of the guys I work with feel a special day for firefighters is unnecessary. There are other occupations that are just as deserving, such as doctors, military men and women, police, medical researchers and teachers.
"The decision to be a firefighter, for me, was a matter of finding a career that fit me and my strengths as a person and employee. The risks and rewards of this job have been eye opening as well as gratifying. A career that puts a smile on my face each day as I ready my apparatus for my shift makes me feel blessed. I don't deserve a day anymore than a man selling hips and knees or one in the insurance business.
"What scares me more than a burning building is that I may somehow not be the father or spiritual leader I am instructed to be. If I can fill the role of father I'll see myself as a hero!"
My father was my hero and I am blessed to have such wonderful men in my life who are also heroes.
Mary Partington lives in New Port Richey.