Father Figures: Show and Tell

“The year was 1992 – I was in second grade at John J Jennings Elementary School in Bristol, CT.

Show-and-tell was a weekly highlight for our class. Some classmates had their parents come to talk about their important jobs as a Fireman or an EMT; they would bring plastic fire chief hats or stickers for everyone.

My dad was a proud feeder driver for United Parcel Service (and also my best friend and hero), so logically I begged him to come as my special show-and-tell guest. After lots of convincing (by me) and some behind the scenes logistical work (by him), my dad was granted permission to bring a set of tractor trailer doubles to my elementary school for show and tell.

My classmates were given a tour of the equipment, a photo in the driver seat, and a model UPS airplane as mementos of the special day. The visit was even featured in UPS’s publication, ‘The Big Idea.’

This is one of many examples of my dad going above and beyond – a fun and memorable day! He taught me that family comes first, and the way to a good life is through hard work.

My dad passed away unexpectedly on March 12, 2021. While losing my best friend has been undoubtedly devastating, I’ve found strength and comfort in hearing stories from others – near and far – who have been impacted by my dad’s personality, humor, generosity and straightforward outlook on life.

Thanks for everything, Daddy – I’ll always make you proud.”

– Becky Faulkner

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Father Figures: So Much Already

“Even though our little bean is only 4 months old, my significant other has been through so much already.

Our first few days with her were perfect, but things went downhill quickly for me. Drew was forced to not only take care of me, he also had to completely provide for our daughter when I wasn’t able.

Eventually, when I was in the hospital, he juggled caring for her and visiting me. He was faced with the possibility of being an only parent. I can’t imagine the stress he experienced.

Last week, our daughter started having seizures. We took her to the hospital, where they admitted her to the ICU and put her through numerous tests and finally put her on medication to stop the seizures. (She seems to be happy and healthy again.)

He was by her side through the entire process. I love watching him become closer to her. She is definitely going to be a daddy’s girl!”

– Ashley Vernon

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Father Figures: Twin Prediction

“My husband and I started dating at the age of sixteen. I told him that someday, somehow I just knew I was going to have twin boys.

Fast forward nine years and we were married but struggling to get pregnant. My husband went in to the doctor to see why we couldn’t have kids and discovered he had blood cancer. He was given one day to bank sperm before needing to start chemo treatment.

After several years of hardship both physically and mentally, my husband came up to me with tears running down his face saying he really wanted to be a father. Later that week, we started the IVF process and ended up with the twin boys we’d always dreamed of!

Having nearly lost his battle with cancer, my husband knows how important every moment is and he truly makes the most of his time with his boys. He puts down everything to play and interact with them.

They look up to him as their real life superhero and I can’t wait to share with them when they get older how he truly is an inspiration.”

– Jayne Rodarte

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Father Figures: Just Us Guys

“Ever since I can remember, my dad has always given me everything I’ve ever wanted.

That may sound like I’m gloating but I’m really not. I think it shows the never ending love he has for his son.

My mother passed when I was 9 years old, after that it was just him and I for a while. Just us guys.

I’ll never forget eating Papa John’s pizza every Monday night watching WWE RAW. I am still a big fan to this day and he is a big reason for that.

I love you, Dad.”

– Chase Brooks

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Father Figures: He Trained For This

“When Myla was born via surprise c-section in June of 2010, I developed severe post partum depression and anxiety. I couldn’t breastfeed or even get out of bed some days.

Michael was a young father with no dad experience at all. Perhaps his Army training and time in Iraq prepared him to spring into action so quickly.

He mastered diaper changes with no problem and is still the only dad I’ve ever known who got up diligently hour after after for middle of the night feedings. He said it was because the military had accustomed him to waking up frequently in the night to do whatever was asked of him and comparatively, this was a labor purely of love.

This is my favorite photo of them, a sight I’d wake up to often after a long sleepless night: the two of them cuddled under his Army blanket aka ‘Woobie.'”

– Alicia Boggio Stiteler

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Father Figures: When I Didn’t Have One

“Gary is the best father figure I could ask for.

My biological dad left my mom, and then left his second wife when I was 8. It was rough, and there were times I wasn’t a good step-son, but he kept at it, supported me in everything I did, and even after getting hurt on his job, worked hard to take care of the house and be at my band shows pulling equipment in the field.

Years later, I’m now a dad of two (one being his namesake, Garrett), and I realize the struggle he went through raising two kids that weren’t his and then one that was, and still being the best dad equally for all.

He also loves being a grandpa.

My sons are giving me a run for my money, but I’m lucky to have an amazing mentor and teacher to help me out. To thank him, we finally were able to get him his dream car, a 63 Dodge Dart.

Here’s a picture of us with his grandkids and the car, and I can say both gave him new spark in his life. Thanks old man for being the best father when I didn’t have one, and showing me how to be one to my kids.”

– Paul Vargas (@HispanicMnky)

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Father Figures: The Darkest Time

We met at the darkest time of my life. I was a newly single mom of two. He was a young, 24 year old bachelor with no kids of his own. He built me back up to living, loving, trusting again. He took in my kids and loves them as his own.

Fast forward 6 years later, we have added two more beautiful kids to our family. This man is a Captain in the military and a LEO. He works hard to provide the best life possible for our family.

He is the most amazing father I could have ever prayed for. He’s an amazing role model to the boys and he shows our girls how men should treat women. I can’t thank him enough for just being him.

– Kimberly Gaconis

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Father Figures: The Music Man

“Patrick is an amazing husband and father.

During the school year he is also an involved high school band teacher and father figure to his students. He is always there to lend an ear and continues to let his students know that they make a difference in his program, especially during the pandemic. The arts are essential!

During quarantine, Patrick has been using our walk-in closet as an office. He keeps all the music and instruments in there while continuing to have a positive attitude about the whole situation. He has instituted ‘Music Time’ at the end of his workday, when he lets our kids try out instruments and plays them songs on flute, his primary instrument.

Just wanted to send this shoutout to an amazing guy and let him know I see him and he is doing a great job.”

– Tiffany Doerr

Father Figures: Battling Demons

“My husband and I met in our early 20s. He was fresh out of college, just starting his career. I was in grad school, still finding my way.

We got married and pregnant quickly, within the first year. Neither of us knew what we were doing and we both had our own demons to battle.

My husband went from a carefree boy still chasing the party life to an incredible man working hard to support his wife and family. He has battled his demons and won, while maintaining our family and giving nothing but love to myself and our now six children.

He supports the family alone and takes on the roles of both mom and dad when I have to struggle through frequent hospitalizations managing my own demons. He has always been kind, loving, and supportive. He has been an amazing father and husband since day one and I couldn’t imagine navigating life without him.

I want him to know that I respect the sacrifices he has made to raise our family and that he is loved and appreciated unconditionally.”

– Sarah Klapprodt

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Father Figures: He Caught Me

“My mom and biological father split before they knew my mom was pregnant with me. Four years later she met the neighbor and her new life began.

He was always very respectful of me and my boundaries. I was about 5 when he asked my mom to marry him; he asked me if it was okay.

I went upstairs and held counsel with my stuffed animals and dolls. We agreed he could stay if he passed one test: the next time we went to the park, I climbed to the highest point on the jungle gym when no one was looking. From there I shouted ‘Hey Dad!’ And leapt. This man turned around and caught me no problem.

He’s been there to catch me when I fall ever since. He’s my rock, my biggest supporter, and the best dad and grandfather anyone could ask for!”

– Emily Coyle

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Father Figures: Extraordinary

“My dad Thom is just extraordinary. As a young man, he raised my brother and me while working as an owner of a local printing shop. My dad was the kind of owner who worked any emergency overtime so his staff could go home to their families.

But owning a printing shop wasn’t HIS dream. So, once we were much more independent, he went back to university and got his teaching degree. Shortly after his first teaching gig he was diagnosed with an autoimmune degenerative kidney disease. I have never known truer perseverance than my father’s. When his body says it wants to quit he says, ‘Not today.’

Ten years ago, he received a donor kidney and took his life back immediately. He dropped everything when his grandbabies arrived and made it very clear that being a grandpa was his new love.

Our son was born extremely premature and you best believe Grandpa came to the hospital every single day of the four months his new best buddy had to stay. I like to think that my dad shared some of his impressive strength with our little guy to get him through the fight of his life. We now have a saying in our family that was written on our son’s incubator: ‘Grosses Don’t Quit.’

Recently, we learned that his autoimmune disease has now attacked his donor kidney and he will need a new one. At only 57, he’s got so much more time to spend with his grandchildren.

Please send all positive vibes in finding a fabulous match for this absolute beauty of a man.”

– Tiffany Gross

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Father Figures: He Sacrifices Sleep

“My husband is such an amazing father and husband!

He is a correctional officer, and works overnights. He gets home from work at 8am, upon which I leave for my job, and he is home all day with our four-year-old and one-year-old. He stays up all day until I get home at 6, and he has dinner cooked and ready. He eats quickly and then lays down for an hour or two before going back to work!

All this so we don’t have to pay for daycare.

He has been such a rock for our family, we don’t know what we would do without him! He sacrifices sleep to spend time with us, and always has our families best interest at heart and never complains about anything!

Our son has been his best friend since he was born and our daughter is on the path to being such a daddy’s girl!”

– Kim Demmer

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Father Figures: All Worth It

“My wife and I found out that we were expecting our first child two weeks before the COVID lockdown, while simultaneously learning we had to move from California to Florida over that same summer for my wife’s career.

I had never felt such a tornado of varying emotions in my life. I was no stranger to moving; I was a military child until I started college. But this was different.

My wife and I spent almost three months apart while I moved our belongings cross-country flying solo, and she stayed home with her family for health safety.

Our daughter arrived in November, we had no health insurance, I couldn’t find a job because of the pandemic (I am a chef – we got hit hard), and the panic ensued – about income and taking care of my family.

We made it through after eight months of unemployment, and times are still hard, but every day I come home I get to see my daughter Lyla’s beautiful smile, and I don’t believe for a moment that it isn’t worth everything I have.

2020, and the future I’m sure, proved more to me than all my life before that I can handle anything, but being a dad makes it all worth it.”

– Eric Jackson

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