By Michael O’Connell
Father’s Day is a special time to celebrate the contributions made by fathers throughout the United States.
Fathers are as different and varied as each one of us. Everyone has a father however it takes a special person to be a Dad. My Dad lived through the Depression and fought in the army during World War II. He married my mother after enlisting and was shipped to the South Pacific for 18 months using his skills as a radar technologist to guide the troops to safe destinations. He safely returned home and started a family in Chicago while working two jobs most of his life managing playhouse theaters, national baseball, hockey, basketball, and football stadiums, and concert venues. Long working hours every day including weekends and holidays didn’t discourage him from providing me and my four older siblings with steadfast love, sage advice, and strong support for us to pursue our dreams. When my Dad died, he left a legacy of 5 children, 16 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren. Affectionately known as Papa, he brought joy and happiness to everyone he met. He was generous with his time and helped fix anything that needed fixing with his practical and technical skills. And he guided and helped me as I became the father of four children.
As we reflect on this Father’s Day, we also recognize those people who have taken an active role in being a father figure to those around them. An uncle that takes his nephews and nieces to the park. A grandfather who cares for his grandchildren. A neighbor who fosters a neighborhood child. So take a moment to recognize someone during Father’s Day.
Thank them. Whether it’s your own Dad, a brother, uncle, grandparent, cousin, or friend, thank them for being a father.
Hear their stories. Everyone has a story to tell about being a father.
Encourage someone to share. Ask an open ended question like “What’s the best part of being a father?” or “How did your father influence you in being a father?”
Recognize the responsibilities and challenges in being a father.
Seek out those who may be lonely or isolated.
Dream big and allow those sharing to dream big too!
Appreciate fathers’ influence on other’s lives.
Yet without saying, appreciate that every father has their own story and one that is meant to be heard.
I am the leader I am today in part because of the love, support, and guidance I had from my father. As leaders, we are who we are because of the many people who have influenced our lives. Take a moment to reflect on those individuals who have helped shape and influence you as a leader and thank them.
Happy Father’s Day!
Michael O’Connell, MHA, FACHE, is the Immediate Past President of CAHL