I am the son of a great man. He loves my mom; he loves my sister; and he loves me. As I write this, my dad is recovering from a stroke and a few other complications that come from being 79 years old. It’s hard to see him looking frail because my dad has always been the strongest man I have known.
But as I look back and recall my memories of my dad, there are a few things that stand out. My dad was always there. He left for work at 6:20 a.m. Monday through Friday, and he was home at 4:20 p.m. every day. He came to every game I played in and took me to church every Sunday morning and evening, Wednesday night and on Saturdays when he was the church janitor (which is where I learned to vacuum). He taught me to read the newspaper and drink coffee. He taught me to drive by sitting on his lap at the age of 9 and letting me steer on country roads (and then later let me drive all over town in a 1962 VW Beetle at the age of 13).
He taught me marriage is forever. When my mom went back to college after two kids, he supported her dreams. When my mom battled breast cancer, he was there by her side. When they both retired and started a new life, he showed me how he became my mom’s best friend all over again. He taught me to love one woman for life—and, after 59 years of marriage, he still shows his love for my mom.
My dad modeled the way of Fatherhood for me way before I ever dreamed of becoming a father. Fatherhood seemed quite elusive for me during my adult years. I did not marry until I was 33 and did not become a father until 36. And now, after 18 years of fatherhood and six boys, I look back at each of my sons and realize how much each has taught me.
Aidan, our firstborn, taught me it was possible to love something immediately. It was love at first sight even when he was nothing but 7 pounds of flesh, blood and poop. But instantly upon his birth, I knew I would die for him if need be. And now that he is 18 and a recent high school graduate, my heart is still full of love and pride for my oldest son.
Noah, our second born, taught me that even though a child has the same parents, no two children are alike. I learned it was possible to love him as much as I loved my firstborn son. It completely amazed me: that my heart had so much capacity. And now that he is 16, his discipline and maturity amaze me.
Tucker—our first adopted son from South Korea through our adoption agency, Dillon International—taught me that DNA does not make a child my son: But love does. And while he may not have the same physical features as his two older brothers, he has family traits and characteristics that only could have come from being part of our family. When I look at my 10- year-old son, I only see that he is my son.
Cade, our second adopted son from South Korea, taught me that love is a choice that has to be made each day. He was 19 months when we brought him home, and we both had to learn to love and trust each other. And that takes time and commitment to choose to love each and every day. And now that he is 10, my love for him is deep and wide.
Titus, our fifth son, was our late-in-life surprise. After being told it was practically impossible to conceive, God found a way to surprise and delight us with a child with special needs. He has taught me that we are all broken vessels in some way – but every day is a precious gift of life. And even a child born deaf and blind and immobile and non-verbal is capable of spreading joy into the lives of others. And while his lifespan may not be as long as my other boys’, I know Titus was fearfully and wonderfully made by God and one day will be made perfect. He has taught me more about my faith than a million sermons ever will.
And just when all our friends are marrying off their children and welcoming their first grandchildren, our sixth son, Grayson, has come into our lives – a 5-year-old boy from China born with no arms (but a huge heart). This delightful little boy has captured our hearts. God knew Grayson needed a family, and God knew we needed Grayson to be our son.
I am also thankful for my wife of 21 years, Becky. She is the love of my life, the mother of my children and my best friend. After the births and miscarriages, the roller coaster of infertility treatments, the marathons of adoptions and the joys (and toddler tribulations) of parenting, she still makes me laugh. Her capacity to love thrills me, her strength in caring for the children amazes me and her gentle words have helped me become a better father.
I am blessed to be a father to six incredibly diverse and talented boys. There are days they make me so proud to be their dad – and there are days I wonder if we will survive the noise and chaos. There are days I’m sure the neighbors think our house will implode with all the noise, but then there are quiet, quiet nights where I hear the whispered conversations and secrets shared between brothers.
It is a great privilege to be a son, a father and a husband. I look forward to the future and to see what God unfolds. (And I look forward to grandchildren – lots and lots of beautiful grandchildren).
—By Paul Daily