Father Figures: Best Bros

“My wife and I have been married for 4 years and the day we celebrated our 4 year anniversary, we welcomed our 2nd son, Jack into our lives.

Our first son, Emmett, had just broken his femur four days before Jack was to be born, so needless to say, we were pretty stinkin’ scared and knew we were about to have our hands full.

Being a dad means that I get to serve my family and go to bed every night more tired than I ever have been and more full of joy. That I get to show my sons that their momma is the most important person in the world to me and that they should live to enjoy God and glorify him forever.

These next 2 months will probably be our hardest yet, but I sure looking forward to watching these two dudes grow up to be best bros.”

– Tony Weaver

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Father Figures: Perfect

“6 years ago in March, my wife gave birth to our first baby, a perfect little girl we named Annabel. I remember as soon as I saw her under the warming lights, I put my finger in and she grabbed it with a little tiny baby death grip. Best day of my life at that point.

Few days later, my wife was convinced something wasn’t right. Our baby’s oxygen levels were going down, and her lips would turn blue when she ate, which wasn’t often. My wife demanded they run some tests, which they finally agreed to, even over my objections that she was overreacting.

We had to to go home, leaving our little girl in the NICU, but we were convinced everything would be fine and we’d take her home the next day. The staff laughed as we left, saying to enjoy our last full night of sleep.

The next day, we were told they did some tests and found she had a serious heart defect. Had they not found it, chances were good at some point in very early childhood, she would have gone to sleep and never woke up. Talk about heartbreaking.

We were told she needed to have open heart surgery, pretty quick. So, we got scheduled for about a week later. They set us up in a little hospital room, close to the NICU so we could stay there.

The nurses were amazing, one namely: Natalie. Answered every question we had, and couldn’t have been sweeter in the process, making sure we understood everything. She spent many a long night with us, reassuring us that everything would be just fine. There was risk, and we were told we should have her baptized in the hospital before surgery.

Open heart surgery went great. Divine inspiration touched, and just so happened the hospital we were at had the best cardiac surgeon for newborns, not just in the country, but likely in the world. For him, surgery was just another day in the office, obviously not the case for us. Still blows my mind.

6 years and several checkups later she couldn’t be healthier. Typical little girl, energetic, goofy, loves to play, and fortunately got her mother’s good looks. She’s got me wrapped around her little finger, no question about it. We thank god everyday for people like Dr. Illbawi, and our nurse, Natalie, who stood by our side through everything, and saved our little girl’s life.

4 years later, we had another little baby girl, we named her Natalie.

Both kids are perfect, no health issues at all, and I learned to never take a day for granted. I’ve been a cop for the past 11 years, she thinks I’m a superhero. Little girl has no idea it’s just the opposite.

All she has to remind her is a little scar on her chest, which I joke and say no guy will ever see anyway, barring a *Bad Boys 2* type introduction to me, and a few of my closest work friends.”

– Bryan Harl


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Father Figures: My Motivation

“I had a lot of preconceived notions about what type of type of dad I thought I’d be if I were ever to have a son, all those notions went right out the window the second you opened your eyes at me for the first time.

Everything I thought I knew and would be a professional at as a dad gave way to the emotion and pure joy I felt just watching you do even the smallest of things in life .

I used to say one day my son is going to be a football player like I was and score a bunch of touchdowns, he’s going to be tough and relentless and make me so proud. Looking back now as the father I am today, I finally get the silliness of that old cliche. The reality is my son makes me proud by finishing his juice box, sharing with his friends, being polite to a waitress or simply tying his shoes correctly.

I understand now that regardless of what this little man chooses to do in life, whether it’s playing a flute or winning the world’s strongest man competition someday, I’m going to be right there in the front row overflowing with pride and happiness for my boy.

As a father I get it now, more focus on raising young men of value and love is needed more than ever in today’s world and my son is 100% joining those ranks. Accolades and trophies come and go, but kindness, compassion, and a good heart will stay with him forever. Embrace this world with an open heart and a thirst for adventure my son, never stop dreaming, and thank you for making me feel like the luckiest man alive each and every day.

Watching you grow and learn and enjoy life the way you do has been nothing short of amazing and I’ve already learned more by raising you in 8 short years then I did my entire previous 30. You are my motivation and reason for everything in life and without you I wouldn’t be even half the man I am today.”

– Adam Gauthier

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Father Figures: Divine Intervention

“In early September, 2016, I went to the hospital with serious pain in my right side. Two days and a ton of tests and they couldn’t explain my pain. They sent me home with pain killers and the next morning I could barely sit in my driver’s seat.

Went back to the ER and they gave me a CAT scan. hey didn’t find anything wrong again BUT they found an unrelated mass on my left kidney. Told me it was a golf ball-sized tumor and scheduled my surgery for mid-October. They went in and when they saw it, it was the size of a Nerf football and had taje over the whole kidney. So they took out the whole thing. I was lucky enough to not need any further treatment.

One year later, my first son was born. I was 38 years old. Now I’m 40 and we have another on the way due in December right by my own birthday. Divine intervention brought me to the hospital that day. If I’d ignored it, I wouldn’t be here today. Fuck yeah.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!”

– Dave Slagle

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Father Figures: The Perfect Scenario

“A few years ago, me and my partner started a relationship. She came with what some people would call ‘baggage,’ but that I proudly get to call him my step-son.

He was nearly 4 years old, so he was at an age where becoming a parent (for me) wasn’t too difficult. A few years down the track – and a roller coaster of emotions later – we now have a 4-month-old baby girl, and I can’t explain in words how amazing the journey has been.

I have spent some time at home during the day and my appreciation for what my partner does as a mother has blown me away. She recently uploaded a photo to social media that was a wake-up call.

She had taken a photo of me and my daughter gazing into each other’s eyes with a nice edit and filter, and she placed it alongside a photo I took of her – poor lighting, our daughter had pulled a towel over her head, our boy is hanging off her legs – and it sums up what she endures daily.

Her caption read: ‘This is what happens when dads take the photos.’

I look at the photo and it shows love, empathy, patience and true compassion. For others it may not look like the perfect scenario/photo. But to me it’s all I have ever asked for. To those step-dads, new dads and dads of many – you got this!

– Brandon Edwardson

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Father Figures: Not Going Anywhere

“I didn’t have a dad growing up. I turned out just fine thanks to a tough-as-nails single mom, but I never knew what it was like to have a dad.

I told myself that if I ever got the chance I’d be the BEST dad, and I’d be there for my kid no matter what.

It took my wife and me years to get pregnant. Doctor’s visits and tests and more tests and cycle tracking and disappointment after disappointment and we couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t happening. And then one day that test came back pregnant and it was a whirlwind of joy and relief and excitement and fear.

Holding her for the first time — February 24, 2017 — was the greatest day of my life. There are some days where I just look at her and feel a happiness I didn’t even know I could feel.

My little girl has a dad. I’m not going anywhere.”

– Christopher Parish

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Father Figures: A New Life

“I’m lucky in so many ways.

I grew up with a great role model for a dad and felt like my biggest pressure was equaling or surpassing the example that my dad put forward. Because of that, I never felt like I was truly ready to be a dad until the actual moment when I saw my son come into the world.

Seeing his eyes open for the first time, taking in the whole world reshaped mine in all of a millisecond. The gravity of having a life in my hands, and supporting my wife and a family of my own, turned my world forward and upward in a way I could’ve never imagined.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not my dad yet. Learning and growing and getting schooled by this 12 pound bundle is supremely humbling.

But I am a better man every day, and this little man has made my path clearer with every smile and every dirty diaper. March 8, 10:27am.

Start of a new life in more ways than one.”

– Ben Boynton

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Father Figures: Perfect

“The first feeling I had when I laid eye on my baby girl for the first time was relief, pride, and anger all at once. It was the first time I had cried in years.

Weeks before the birth, my daughter was written off by medical staff. We were told two weeks before her birth that we should be deciding if our baby will be an organ donor. We were told that if she survived birth she would likely be low functioning.

She came out perfect. The medical issues she has are null in her development. No one could ever tell that my daughter was basically called a bag of organs by a team of doctors.”

– Mason Rice

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Father Figures: Life Didn’t End

“My college roommate and I always used to joke that marriage was end of your life. Marriage led to kids, living in the burbs, driving a van, i.e., being a ‘real adult.’

I got married two years after graduating and my life didn’t end. My wife and I lived in the city. Life was simple. Then we started talking about kids. Then I thought, okay, that’s when my life ends. That’s when we move to the burbs, drive a van, etc.

Fast forward 6 years and I have two boys, one 4 years old and one 19 months. My ‘life’ still hasn’t ended. It’s only gotten more exciting.

Everyone dreads the late nights and the public meltdowns, but I’ve come to realize that those are the moments I’ll remember most. Sure I’ll remember t-ball games, birthdays, and whatever the future holds, but more than anything else I remember having to be up at 4am to help Beau fall asleep because he’ll only sleep if he’s laying on my chest. Or laying with Logan because he was scared.

I remember these things because they are the moments we can’t recreate. In the moment they may seem frustrating or tiring, but every morning after a late night, I turn to my wife – while we’re driving in our van, leaving our house in the suburbs – and tell her, I’m going to miss this someday.”

– Andrew Moldawer

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Father Figures: The Shock

“I grew up in a pretty tumultuous home. The youngest of four siblings by a large margin. The biggest issue with this is that my dad had a vasectomy before me, so I was the product of infidelity.

Despite this nasty fact, my dad gave me his last name and raised me as his own, and in all honesty tried harder to give me a good childhood, with a father-son bond, than he did with his own children.

After graduating high school he went hard line father and said, ‘You have a choice, you can get a job, or you can get out of my house.’

Like any headstrong, rebellious 18 year old, I went and got a job. While there, I met a beautiful girl. We started dating, and a year passed. We got engaged by then. It was the day before our one year anniversary, and my dad had a heart attack at work, and we lost him, complete surprise.

Without missing a beat, my wife (then girlfriend) saw my distress, and we quite recklessly made the mutual decision to have a child pretty soon after that.

10 years, and three children later, I draw from him the knowledge and strength on how and what to do. As hard as it is to face the fear of fatherhood without his guidance, I know I walk a line in his shadow I never thought myself able of accomplishing before his departure.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d love to see the look on his face if he saw my current path and the decisions I’ve made and the man I became in his absence, but I guarantee he would probably suffer another heart attack from the shock.”

– Nathan R.

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Father Figures: Take a Chance

“When I met my wife in April of 2008, I had orders to move to Belgium in only four months.

We had previously dated when we were children (18) for a short-lived relationship. I soon after joined the Air Force and went on my way, to be honest she completely ghosted me and it turned her into my ‘great white buffalo.’

Fast forward to 2008. I’m in a bar downtown and she came up to me and said “don’t I know you?” I immediately replied with ‘Your Ashley f****** O’Connor!’ We immediately hit it off again and of course I was excited because of her ‘Great White Buffalo’ status.

Knowing I had orders to leave soon I didn’t immediately tell her because I really liked her and wanted to give it shot and try not to become a military cliche: meeting someone and getting married too fast!

We dated for a couple weeks and things were awesome. Then I noticed a picture on her dresser of her and a little girl. Since we had been dating for a while I figured this was her niece or little sister. Of course it wasn’t, it was her daughter, she had been keeping that from me because she was afraid I’d walk out.

My dad adopted my two older brothers so this wasn’t a big deal to me! I then told her I had orders to leave, she said she was coming with me, and the rest is history! Three kids later, we are both back in our hometown of Omaha, Nebraska and living it up! The point is family is what you make it, and what you make it with is love!

Also don’t afraid to take a chance, you may get your happily ever after like we did.”

– Vince Carroll

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Father Figures: Air, Water, Insulin

“Just before his 13th birthday, my son Benjamin had what we thought was a stomach bug. After over a week of feeling under the weather, we brought him to the emergency which landed him in intensive care… and a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.

We were stunned, to say the least. We knew nothing about diabetes.

Benjamin’s new life of needles, blood sugar tests, and hospital visits began. Not exactly what a child should be worrying about.

After the shock calmed and we learned how to manage his disease, we noticed that Benjamin often still had stomach issues. Was this his diabetes? Nope. An MRI revealed that he had a tumour growing on his spleen, which had nothing to do with diabetes. Eventually, the tumour was removed and with it, most of his spleen.

All of this happened in the last 17 months.

The team at Sick Kids in Toronto is nothing short of amazing. My son’s health journey has involved experts in many fields. Our access to diabetes education, life-sustaining insulin, and diabetes technology is good – but can always be improved. To a Type 1 diabetic, insulin is in the same category as air, water, and food. My son dies if we don’t constantly inject him with insulin.

Benjamin is doing well. He has recovered and has remained strong and positive throughout. He manages his diabetes very well and often teaches us about the disease. He recently graduated Grade 8 and received his Brown Belt in Taekwondo.

Benjamin is logical, strong, always positive, and lives his life with a smile on his face. He makes us laugh constantly, finding levity at even the most stressful, challenging times. I have no doubt he will graduate from a great university, find an amazing job, and live a happy life.

The pride I feel when I look at my son can be overwhelming at times.

At difficult times as a parent, you take a deep breath and look for strength. I found that strength right in front of me with a big smile on his face. I hope all of the dads out there find that same strength when they need it. You don’t need to look far.”

– Ben Ferguson

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.

If you are interested in learning more about how to make insulin more affordable and accessible please visit: T1 International this is an amazing organization of people advocating for Type 1 Diabetics all over the globe!

Father Figures: Real Stress

“I never thought that I wanted kids.

I’ve always been a pretty high-strung, sometimes impatient, anxious, not-so-even-keel guy. When my wife gave me the news that we were expecting our first child, I was happy but also kind of selfishly hesitant internally.

Fast forward 2.5 years and we now have two boys. Two weeks after Little Dude #2 was born, we moved to a new city so that I could start a new job, living in a new house with a new baby. I now know what REAL stress is.

My point is, my boys have taught me patience and consistency because they are the least patient and consistent people I’ve ever met.

Before I had kids, I think I was still kind of a boy, even at 33. Now I can take a giant inflatable hammer to the head from the back seat of the car while driving home from the county fair and laugh about it.

That’s being a man, right?”

– Rocky Brown

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Check out the previous editions of Father Figures here.