Because Life can only be lived a moment at a time.

Fathers, Day by Day

It's not hard to spot the good ones.

Around two weeks ago I turned on my TV and watched a grandfather squeeze his grandson’s shoulder, sharing his strength with the little boy at a critical moment. Then he kissed the child on the head and hugged him once again as they prepared to go into a church for a funeral. Even as the father mourned for his son he didn’t close up his heart. Instead he reached out to his grandson, his granddaughter and daughter-in-law and offered them a steady presence on which to lean.

Vice President Joe Biden is a man terribly familiar with loss. You've probably heard the story: A week before Christmas 1972, shortly after Mr. Biden was elected to the U.S. Senate, his wife and three children were in a car accident.  His wife and baby girl were killed and his two sons were seriously injured.  He wound up taking the oath of office in his sons' hospital room.

Mr. Biden cared for his sons in the midst of personal catastrophe, something you'd expect of a parent. What truly impresses me is the rest of the story, how he chose to continue to live in Delaware even while serving as a Senator in Washington, D.C.  His daily train commute tells me he understood that a successful father isn't born in the delivery room or even in the peaks and valleys of his children's lives.  A man becomes Daddy, Dad, Pop or Papa one day at a time: At the kitchen table, on the soccer field, in the grocery store aisle and the school auditorium.

I can't imagine the pain Mr. Biden must continue to endure as he mourns for his son Beau, who died May 30 at the age of 46. But I think it's likely he has been spared the sting of regret in this regard: I get the impression Beau knew just how much his father loved him.

I have been blessed by a circle of fathers. Daddy has been gone almost 27 years now but few days pass
that I don't think of him. So many moments: His making up songs for me as we drove to school, going to the first "Star Wars" movie together, studying the skies with his telescope in hopes of seeing aliens, going to the Dairy Queen for a treat after working in my grandmother's yard. Daddy was there for the major events of our family---the weddings, the births and the deaths---but I remember him for the multitude of little things.

Mr. Pettit departed from the Southern tradition of calling fathers "Daddy" when he held our older son for the first time and told him, "I'm your Papa." Daddy can't protest my praise but Mr. Pettit surely will if I take this opportunity to gush about what a fine father he has been and continues to be to our sons. Suffice it to say he became "Papa" through multiplication tables and
camping trips and countless games of catch and football.

Last summer our younger son became a father when he and his wife welcomed our Little Miss. It's beautiful to watch him become "Daddy" as he feeds and dresses her and changes diapers and flies her through the air. A host of little things that, when taken together, become significant.

Happy Father's Day to the men who take the time to live up to the title.

All you need is love

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