A personal measure of what a Dad really is

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It’s not very often I blog about myself personally, but with this being Father’s Day, a little self-indulgence is requested.   A little over twenty-two years ago, I had an editorial published in my college newspaper about the role fathers play in our lives.  I spoke about how men are regarded as little more than sperm donors by many, and that dads were considered disposable.  I could not believe how much, in the two-plus decades since that time, I have learned.  First, it requires a very personal admission.

You see, I am infertile.  I couldn’t hit the broad side of a reproductive barn.  When I learned that truth about seven years ago, it was soul crushing.  There is a small part of me, irrational as it may be, which believed that this was the sole reason I was not considered “mate material” by so many women.  Granted, some of this was motivated by self-loathing and junk science, but some of it was based in a genuine belief that I was unlovable.

Fortunately, I was able to adopt a teenage boy who, despite his rough start and difficult childhood, has grown into a funny, smart, albeit slightly lackadaisical, man who works hard for his money.  I am tough on him, but only because I see the talent which lies beneath, along the sincere belief, deep in my soul, that he will buck the current trend of so-called “boomerang kids” and, rather than live with his parents his whole life, will become motivated enough to launch and flourish.  In an era of this “new normal” of stagnation in our economy, some would consider this a pipe dream.

I guess I have my own dad to thank for this belief.  He never stopped believing in finishing anything worth accomplishing.  Just this year, he received his Bachelor’s Degree, and is now considering a Master’s, and he’s in his mid-70s.  He has always done whatever it took to make things work for his family.  He felt the pain of degree inflation in the mid-1980s, being laid off time and time again in the name of cost-cutting efficiency.  While those with degrees and no real-world knowledge flourished, my own father was kicked down and around, and our family left for scrap.  Yes, it caused a great deal of hardship and family discord but, rather than surrender to addiction to cope like so many other men do, my father did what his father taught him to do – never give up.

He scrapped, he battled, he worked; sometimes three jobs.  There was never a day he wasn’t trying, even when it looked like he was giving in.  He always kept his mind busy, sharp, focused on the task at hand, whether it was work, finding work, or helping his children with their own work, he was always there.  It is that example which keeps me going, never surrendering, always reaching higher, wanting better for my son and my family.

I’ve met former presidents, governors, senators, athletes, and celebs of every shape and size.  Yes, most of them work hard and have sacrificed greatly, but none of them, at least to me, are the measure of a man which I see my own father as.  I can only hope I will be half the father he was.

On June 2, I was able to give my mother the best birthday gift I ever gave her – my first novel being released.  This Father’s Day, I am able to give my dad the one gift I never thought possible – the ability for him to say his own son, who once said to him “Dad, one day I’m going to have my own comic strip in the newspaper,” is now a published author of one novel, and is on the cusp of having several more published.  I may not ever be a bestseller, but my dad taught me the single best lesson I ever learned in life; never give up on your goals, even if they take a lifetime to achieve.

My gratitude, and thanks, go out today to my own father, Anthony D. Guzzardo, Sr. – the wisest, toughest, smartest, and most determined man I ever had, and will probably ever have, the privilege of knowing.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  If any man deserves it, it’s you!

Check out my website, http://www.getinjohnshead.com, and check out what’s going on inside my head.

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