Father Figures: It Took Everything

“When our daughter was born, it took everything out of me.

Labour was close to 24 hours and a difficult delivery caused me to hemorrhage and lose a lot of blood. This took the rest of any energy I had left. It was hard to adjust to parenthood as we had to stay in the hospital for an extra couple of unplanned days.

The second night our daughter, Candice, refused to sleep unless it was on someone’s chest, and walking around. We were both completely zonked. Andy took her and spent hours walking around the room so that both Candice and I could sleep.

It was the first real sleep I had gotten in days. When I finally woke up, he looked so tired and while my heart ached to see him in such an exhausted state, I had to snap a picture as I had never been more in awe with him.

To this day, every time I look at this picture, I am flooded with emotions of gratitude and love for this man.”

– Catherine Capern

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Father Figures: Biggest Fan

“My dad was literally my biggest fan, anything I did he gained an interest in.

I got my Paramedic license in 2018 and gave him my first patch. It’s still on his desk where he propped it up to be seen every day. He then joined the local CERT team and told anyone who dared come within earshot that his son was a medic.

If I absolutely needed money, food, or gas as a budding adult making my way, he would take care of it – despite not really having the money to do so. He was always at my games growing up despite working the overnight shift and having a part time job in the mornings. I don’t know how he did it.

He got to meet my two boys that made him a grandpa and I could see the joy in his eyes when he was around them. Unfortunately, he was taken from us suddenly in January of 2020.

When I was 20 I went through a breakup and had to move home and was pretty beat up about it. My dad repainted the bathroom in our basement and put up a dartboard in my room trying to do whatever he could to ease my fall back in the nest.

I was home for his services in NH and opened the door to the bathroom he painted and saw him standing there encouraging me like the day I moved home, then walked back to my old room and walked across the throw line he spray painted on the floor and cried my face off.

We will miss him forever and we are all in a better place in life, directly related to his sacrifices, and I strive to do the same to honor him. Call your dad if you still can boys…. you never know when he will be gone.”

– Patrick Kelley

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Father Figures: Thank the Lord

“This dad works so hard helping to support his dad’s small business that will one day be his.

Sometimes I envy his time alone in the truck when I’ve had a rough day with our three kids, and from time to time my attitude is less than joyful when he walks through the door.

Then he does this quietly without any prompting. Dear Lord in heaven, thank you for this husband and father!”

– Angela Schroeder

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Father Figures: Weekend Updates

“My husband and I both are nurses and work at the same hospital here in Lincolnton, NC. I work in our emergency department and my husband is in our Critical Care Unit (his unit is a total of 10 beds and as of this weekend 8 of the 10 rooms have COVID).

The start of this pandemic he was working at another hospital in outpatient surgery. If you remember, all elective surgeries were canceled and many (including my husband) were out of work. Instead of sitting back and getting an unemployment check, my husband decided to take a leap and help during the chaos.

We work the weekends together, he works day shift and I’m mid shift. Even though he’s had to deal with sad and tough situations all weekend long he’s immediately taking care of our sweet girl after work.

On Sunday nights I get picture updates of what all my husband and daughter are doing.

Sadly, he didn’t grow up knowing his dad or with a stable male figure in his life. I’m just so proud of him everyday and proud that our little girl gets to have him as her dad.”

– Kari Norman

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Father Figures: Above and Beyond

“We met when we were 10 years old.

He was my boyfriend in 5th grade. He moved after school ended, and I didn’t hear from him until we were 19. We started dating again and eventually got married at 23.

He was there for me and my dad while he slowly passed away from bone cancer. A couple years after that, we started trying for a baby. For over a year we struggled. Then finally I got pregnant!

He went to every single appointment with me. Our son was born three weeks early, April 9th 2018.

Five days after he was born, David had to rush me to the hospital because my blood pressure was at stroke level. We found out I had postpartum preeclampsia.

The doctor said if he had not brought me to the hospital when he did, I would have died that night in my sleep. I spent a week in the hospital.

During which he went back and forth from the hospital and home to take care of our newborn.

He was barely sleeping because he was caring for both of us. Our son, Jack, and David have this incredible bond because of it.

Fast forward to September/October of 2019. We were in the process of buying our first home and I found out I was pregnant again, another boy!

That pregnancy had me SO sick. I was not able to do anything to help in moving. He packed our entire house up and moved us across the state to start our new life.

He spent the rest of my pregnancy helping take care of Jack while working 50+ hours a week. He also spent his nights painting the house and getting it ready for the new baby as it’s an older house.

We had Roger in May during the pandemic. Just like with Jack, I had developed postpartum preeclampsia again. I was lucky enough to be able to stay at home but on strict bed rest. He was doing it all again.

He is an INCREDIBLE husband and father who goes above and beyond for his family.”

– Sara Birt

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Father Figures: Changed Forever

“My wife and I were so excited to have our first child.

Everything was fine. I had accepted a new job to start after paternity leave, big raise, which would allow my wife to stay home with our child for at least a year; got my full holiday bonus, the icing on the cake. Everything was great.

Then, at 32 weeks, the doctor told us, our baby was falling behind in growth and would need to come out early as he wasn’t tolerating being inside anymore. At 37 weeks exactly, my wife was induced and James came into the world on 12/23/20.

He needed to go to the NICU as he had low tone, and aspirated formula when given it. As my wife was healing from birth in postpartum, a doctor with many initials after her name came in and told us that our son needed to be moved to a special children’s hospital NICU across the way. There was something wrong, and in her expertise, she felt it was either brain/spinal damage or a neurological problem.

In addition to the problems, my wife had reswabbed (the term for someone who previously had Covid and was still testing positive months later) for Covid 19, and we wouldn’t be able to be with our baby for 10 days, when quarantine was over. We were only able to FaceTime with him, and we still had no answers to what was wrong. His lungs collapsed at one point, and we weren’t sure he would survive; we had him baptized in the hospital i ncase he didn’t make it.

Weeks went by before we were given the diagnosis that has changed our lives forever. Our son has a rare genetic disease called Prader-Willi syndrome, which is very difficult to manage and live with.

After 7 weeks in the NICU, we have finally brought him home; two days later, my father died. He passed away, just as he knew James came home and was going to make it. He’s now James’s personal Angel.

Our world has changed forever; and we will fight to give our little boy the best life possible. He made me a dad. I will build him a world of love and compassion for him.”

– Corey Fuller

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Father Figures: All Shapes

“My wife and I were blessed with our first daughter, Norah, in November of 2014. She turned our world upside-down, and we were double-blessed a few years later when we found out we were expecting our second.

We both like the surprise and didn’t find out what the gender was going to be for either baby.

It is never too early to be prepared. We had clothes, a room ready, and many plans and dreams (like most expecting parents) months before the due date.

We were in the second week of February when my wife told me she was worried and her body didn’t feel right. To be safe, we went to the hospital to get things checked out. After some monitoring of vitals and an ultrasound, we were informed that there was a challenge with our baby.

We went to Vancouver Woman’s hospital and they confirmed that our little baby had a condition that was not compatible with life outside the womb. On February 15th, 2018 my wife gave birth to the beautiful Audrey Megan MacNeil.

The day was spent with loved ones coming by to meet her and hold her. There was lots of time for Dawn and me to be with her. Our oldest, Norah, helped us read Audrey her favorite stories. I sang to her and we loved her so much our hearts were exploding.

That afternoon it was time to say goodbye and my wife and I took the loneliest drive home that anyone could take.

On March 2nd, we buried our daughter surrounded by our friends and family.

On February 15th, it will be Audrey’s 2nd birthday. Since the day we met her, I don’t think there’s been a minute that has passed where she isn’t on my mind and in my heart. We have a third daughter, Margaret Rose, who is 7 months old.

Norah openly talks about both her little sisters. When people ask, we have three daughters. My wife’s strength is unbelievable and has carried me through the past two years (and beyond).

The sadness is still there, but with it is the love only a daughter can bring into your life. I’ve met other dads who have had similar losses, it’s a strange but understanding bond.

Despite the pain and loss we have gone through, I would rather have met Audrey and been filled with the love she brought with her than have never known her at all.

Dads come in all shapes, sizes, and situations. If you know someone who has lost a child, make sure to respect the fact that they are as much of a dad as the rest of us and have a heartful of love for their child and family.

To all you dads out there, respect.”

– Brian MacNeil

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Father Figures: Adored

“My husband has worked from home since the beginning of the pandemic.

He is a US Navy Veteran and has been home for a few years now. We have a beautiful 8-month-old daughter together.

I am a Registered Nurse working at the local hospital on night shift, so that either me or my husband are home with her at all times.

When I come home exhausted after a rough shift, he takes her a few hours so that I can get some rest. All while he’s working full time.

Thank you for all the sacrifices and hard work you put in for our family, especially our daughter who absolutely adores you!”

– Emily Simpson

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Father Figures: Uncommon

“Chris has always been a wonderful, caring father. Entering the time of Covid, and it’s become a whole new meaning.

We welcomed our second daughter into the world in the middle of 2020, and he jumped at the chance to take FMLA to be home with our girls for a month while we worked out childcare logistics.

Fast forward a few months and we landed on the idea of one parent staying at home for a longer period of time. He stepped up and left his 9-5 job as an IT engineer to be home to take care of our children full time while I continue to work.

This seems so uncommon in our world today, and I’m just so proud of him. There was no hesitation on his side about what he wanted to do and what was right for our family.

I don’t give him enough credit – for practicing counting and the alphabet daily with our 2.5 year old, for coming up with silly games to play, for tying ponytails, and for embracing matching pajamas.

He truly is an incredible dad.”

– Sarah Allen

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Father Figures: Two Pictures

“Here are two pictures of my dad, Paul Costa, that encompass who he was.

The first is from when he was playing in the NFL posing with a young fan. The second is of my dad and me, several years before he passed away from prostate cancer in October of 2015.

When most people look at my dad, they only see the tough guy exterior; 10 year professional football player, 6’5” 300lbs+, hands the size of a small Volkswagen… but he was the most tender, loving, caring man I’ve ever met.

I remember when I was a kid, we were driving around in his truck and he said to me ‘Son, I’d die for you and your mother.’ At the time, I thought it was weird, but now as a grown man with a child of my own, I know exactly what he meant.

My friends always made fun of me because every time I’d leave the house, my dad would give me a kiss and tell me he loved me. It was awkward back then, but some of the most precious memories I have now.

My dad’s compassion for kids stems from my brother passing away from an illness during his 6th year in the NFL. My dad took that horrendous event and used it as a catalyst for good. After he retired from football he dedicated the remainder of his life to ministry work and serving others.

When he was sick with cancer and I’d go visit him, he’d always ask me what I needed and if he could do anything for me. I was there to help him, but he was the one who always ended up helping me.

The last words my dad said to me before he passed were ‘I love you,’ a fitting end to his time here on earth.”

– Clark Costa

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Father Figures: We Wanna Be Like Mike

Today would’ve been my dad Mike’s 66th birthday.

He grew up old-school in Southeast Kentucky (Appalachia). As a kid he had a paper route. He and his younger brother would ride together on an old banana seat bicycle to deliver the morning news. In high school he worked at the neighborhood grocery store, and was making almost as much as his teachers. He learned to weld in shop class and began working in the coal mining business after high school.

He was that dad that always told you he loved you, and he always gave 110%. My brother and I would have new clothes while Dad would walk around in the same shirt, with holes in it. If you looked at him you would’ve probably thought he works an awful lot and doesn’t have much. But he was happy and we never heard him complain.

Dad loved UK (University of Kentucky) sports and passed that on to my brother and me. He also enjoyed pick-up basketball, front yard football games, and farming. Farming was Dad’s way of working when he wasn’t at work.

In 2010, he was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer. Going from working usually 80 hrs a week in a coal production plant to a sedentary lifestyle was the toughest thing for Dad. Even after brain surgery and seizures, he yearned to drive his ole beater Chevy back to the Harlan mines.

He was in physical therapy, but thought walking his steep driveway on a daily basis would show the doctors who was boss. Dad fought cancer valiantly before he passed away almost 7 months later. We buried him in a royal blue UK casket.

Shortly before he passed I had a friend who’d recently lost his dad sit me down for a talk. He explained I needed to tell my dad how I felt before it was too late. I won’t tell you what I said, but it was the hardest yet most satisfying conversation of my life. We both cried like little kids. If you have a close family member who is in the same situation, I recommend you have the same talk. It brought me immense closure.

If you were to ask my brother and me what we want to be remembered as, I’m sure we would both say we want to be great dads like our dad.

– Justin Yeary

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Father Figures: I Could Brag

“I could brag and go on and on about my husband and what an amazing daddy he is to our medically complex daughter, and what an awesome support partner he is to me.

Her birth was complicated, my c-section was unexpected, her 2.5 month NICU stay and concurrent hospital re-admission and chronic illness could be enough for many dads to mentally ‘check-out.’

Instead, it’s drawn us closer as a couple, and he’s stepped up, working even harder in his career so that I can take leave from mine to tend to her needs. He’s been a complete gem during this entire scary process.

We have three other kids from previous marriages, and I always saw him as a great father (and step father), but I see him in a whole new light being the dad to our daughter. There’s no better person on this earth for me to take this journey together, and our baby is incredibly lucky to have him as her daddy.”

– Maggie Rashwan

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Father Figures: Selfless

“Joe had his own set of worries when we found out we were pregnant with our first.

Growing up a boy who didn’t know his dad, it’s no wonder he had worries. But he slipped right into the role as if he wrote the rule book on fatherhood himself.

Selfless doesn’t begin to describe Joe. Despite long, grueling hours at work, he never misses a beat at home, constantly picking up my slack, giving me breaks, swooping in to take over with our boys.

He lives and breathes for the moments others (admittedly even myself at times) overlook; every night, reading with and singing our oldest to sleep, he refuses to miss a bath time.

Joe is the dad I always wished I had growing up, the dad I always wished for my future children, the type of dad I wish for all children.

He’s a prime example of what a father should be.”

– Amber DeMar

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