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  • Writer's pictureSusan Howell

Father's Day

The day had been long, and I was tired and grumpy. We were visiting my grandparents who lived about an hour's drive from our house. I loved Grandma and Grandpa and always enjoyed spending time with them. But on this day, I was more than ready to go home. As a young teenager, I had things to do. Important things, like calling my bestie to gab for hours, browsing through teen magazines, or shutting myself in my room to play records. (Yes, it was that long ago.) I was excited when my parents finally said it was time to go. But no sooner than we got into the car, Grandma called to us from her front porch. Their freezer had stopped working. It was packed with food they were afraid would spoil. Could we take some of it to her sister's house to store in her freezer? 

"Sure," my dad said. "We'll take it over." 

"No," I argued in a whiney whisper. "I'm tired. Just tell Grandma we can't." 

"They're in a difficult situation and need our help," he said as he opened the car door. "It won't take long."  

I continued to protest. Probably threw in an eye roll for good measure. 

He looked back at me and responded firmly, "Susan, when people need our help, we help them."  

I knew then I'd just have to tough it out. We weren't heading home until the all the meat, fruit, and vegetables were emptied from grandma and grandpa's stand alone freezer, packed into our car, and delivered to my great aunt's freezer chest across town.    

That one statement directly summed up the importance he and my mother placed on helping others when we have the power to do so. And although I had witnessed them doing just that countless times both within and outside of our family, it was good for me, a cranky adolescent, to hear those values explicitly stated. 

Every day, so many people need our help. Our families need the acts of service we provide. We cook dinner and pack lunches. We read that story one more time to our toddler and help the older one with homework. And we occasionally transport frozen food across town. Outside of our homes, we step in to serve on a committee at church, stand up for a colleague with our boss, or write a letter to a representative about an issue that affects those less fortunate. These acts of service keep our families and our world going. 

The opportunities to help others are endless and at times can feel overwhelming. And while we certainly can't take on all the problems of the world, it's good to do what we can, when we can. My dad did that on a regular basis; I try to do the same. 

My father died six months ago so this Father’s Day was my first without him. However, I continue to feel him with me in the memories I have and the lessons he taught me. 

"When people need our help, we help them." 

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