Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

On Father's Day, I am especially grateful for the continued presence of my father in my life. He is nearing his 99th (99th!) birthday but is still very much "with the program," as he would put it. He lives alone in an apartment but is very much involved with daily activities and friends, including the minyan (daily prayer group) at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Michigan. He gave up his driver's license just before he turned 98 but never lacks for a ride wherever he needs to go. My father has a joke for every occasion and a knack for making connections with everyone from restaurant cashiers to rabbis. He follows the roller-coaster fortunes of all the Detroit sports teams (sorry, Red Wing fans) and keeps up with politics and other current affairs. He admits that he is "hanging in, but the thread is getting thinner."

I saw my father about a month ago and continue to be astounded by how sharp he remains mentally even as he fights the inevitable physical decline associated with aging. His presence and friendship continue to bring joy to so many people on a daily basis. I feel privileged to be his daughter.

Now my father, unlike Barack Obama, never served as President of the United States. I'm sure that Barack Obama's daughters appreciate the extraordinary man who they are privileged to call their father. Perhaps because he grew up in the absence of a father, he is passionate about the need for fathers to take responsibility for their children not just physically financially but also through emotional involvement . President Obama writes eloquently about parental involvement in today's Parade Magazine. His call can be answered by parents of any gender, and in any family structure.

I urge you to take a few moments to read this article. Then, think about what you can do in your family, in your community, in your nation, and in your world to help our children fulfill their potential and become the blessings they are meant to be in this world. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child - and we are all part of the global village responsible for all of its children.

So perhaps it is fitting that in 2009, Father's Day occurs on the "longest day of the year" - it gives us more time to celebrate. I'm off to make my husband's favorite summer dessert, blueberry cobbler. Happy Father's Day to all, but especially to my father and my husband!