What is a Dad?

Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to have two men who have played the role of Dad. My precious daughter has shared this same experience. This has allowed me to re-evaluate what it means to be a Dad, and what makes someone worthy of this title.

To young girls, a Dad is usually a larger-than-life hero. They are strong, supportive, and adoring of their little ones. They sometimes tend to be over-protective, only wanting the very best for their baby girls. The pride in their eyes shines brighter than the sun.

As we grow up, and begin to recognize the humanness of our Dads as they witness our evolution into young ladies, this relationship can become strained. Their need to protect is challenged by our need for independence. How difficult that must be for them to release the grip, knowing that the world is filled with others who do not value their most prized connections.

Sometimes, because our Dads carry wounds from their childhood, they are unable to carry the weight of the burden of Fatherhood as easily as before. Relationships become strained, leaving both parties feeling a little lost and misunderstood. Many years are spent searching for what was lost. This was my experience with my Daddy, whom I was only able to reconnect with during his final days on earth. The forgiveness and acceptance we shared during that time remains one of my life’s greatest blessings.

However, I was extremely lucky to have a Bonus Dad who was a constant, and still is. He didn’t quite know what to do with a little girl when he married my Mom; I was 10. He’s never been an overly affectionate individual, but his love has always been apparent through his support, actions, and conversations. He also grew up lacking a Father figure. But, somehow, has been able to make a life that was more than comfortable, consistent, and accepting of me throughout every stage, including Motherhood. The love he has for my daughter is beyond anything I could ask for her, replicating the adoration I felt from my own Papa. His role of unwavering dedication to my Momma and me has had a tremendous impact on the trajectory of my life, and I am eternally grateful that she chose him for us over 30 years ago.

My daughter’s father has sacrificed so much in his life to live nearby and be available to her. He left his career in the military early to give them 5 years they would not have otherwise shared. The bond they have is precious, and their brilliant minds understand one another deeply, even as she goes through her teen years. I am beyond grateful for the selflessness and hard work he has displayed for the benefit of our daughter.

The man I’m now married to is an awesome Father to his own children, and loves Maggie just the same. He listens to her, empowers and supports her, and I know she is blessed to have another strong man as her Bonus Dad. When she found out at nine years old that we were getting married, she squealed with delight and jumped, flinging her arms in the air. I was certain then, and I still am that he was a blessing to her as much as he is to me.

Fathers come in a variety of forms. But, to their little girls, their love means the world. The decision to show up and be available is really the only thing that matters. There is no such thing as the perfect Dad, only boys who become men, doing the best they can every day to make life a little better for our girls.

Thankful on this Father’s Day for all of the Dads in my life. Wishing every man a memorable Father’s Day, and the blessing of gratitude from those you love and support. 💙

A Little Bit of Sunshine Goes a Long Way

We often get so busy with schedules and daily tasks that we forget to pause and take in the beauty of God’s precious creation. The soul nourishment provided by the sunshine, a breeze, or the twinkling stars exceeds any caffeinated beverage or energy drink available. Starting today, I vow to spend a few minutes each morning and every evening taking in the glorious energy available to us every day.

I am certain that it will provide the sense of calm and balance necessary to accomplish the tasks of daily life. Will you join me?

Joy and Gratitude for the Little Things

My husband surprises me with flowers from time to time. I couldn’t help but pause and thank God for putting such a kind-hearted and thoughtful man by my side for this rollercoaster called life.

What are you thankful for today?

#peacefulahead #blessed #justbecauseflowers #partnerforlife #throughthegoodandbad #itsthelittlethings #gratitude #joy

Changing My Definition of Peace

I always thought peace was the absence of hardship. But because God performed a true miracle in my life, I know that peace can be found in the best and the worst situations we face.

As a small child, I was the apple of my Daddy’s eye. The pride he felt for being my Dad was palpable to all who were around us. He had my name tattooed on his arm, and later, when my parents divorced, he had an 11×14 portrait of me in the living room of his apartment. I had no question that I was the joy of his life.

Then, as time went on, his struggles with mental health issues, alcoholism, and PTSD (brought on by a childhood filled of chaos and his time in the Vietnam war as a helicopter door gunner) took a toll on him. I know he was involved in a world that was filled with darkness, but I’ve been spared the details by all who knew. He was so ashamed of the person he’d become that he couldn’t stand to let me see him. So, our relationship stretched thinner by the year until eventually, I would have to make many phone calls and find his address and just show up to see him. I missed his presence in my life, but could only muster up the courage to hunt him down about once a year. He didn’t know me, and I certainly didn’t know him. Even when my daughter was born, years later, it was a challenge to coordinate a meeting with him so he could see my greatest joy.

Life went on, and as a new Mother, I knew that there was no way he was consciously making the choice to miss out on my life. I chose to forgive him and pray for his soul, without knowing if we’d ever be able to reconcile. My greatest fear was that I would receive a phone call one day that he’d passed away, and that opportunity would never present itself.

In January 2015, the phone rang. It was my uncle telling me that my Daddy was in the hospital, and they thought he had a brain tumor. I gathered a bag, left my new husband and daughter, and headed to see the unknown. When I arrived, he smiled ear to ear with the same joy emanating from within that I’d known as a child. He was unshaven, dirty from falling in the dirt due to his condition, very sick, but completely cognizant. I knew then that God had opened a door that I could not have opened alone. As I drove home to prepare to stay with him in the hospital while we got more information, I clearly heard God say to me, “It is well.”

What ensued after was a journey from diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer with a metastasis to the brain to a reconnection with loved ones who showed up with love and kindness. Because of the extent of the cancer and the weakness of his body, we chose to ask hospice to come in and provide him comfort as he left this world.

I never left his side longer than was required to shower, pack a new bag, and return, sleeping several nights in a zero-gravity lawn chair just to be near him, and at times, climbing in bed next to him just to feel what I’d missed for so many years. I rubbed his feet with lotion, wiped his face with a wash cloth, and was truly able to return the acts of love he’d shown me as a small child. My daughter and husband were able to meet my Daddy (the person I thought had disappeared many years ago) and I was beyond grateful to be able to witness and reconnect with his true spirit during those final days.

Eleven days later, he passed away peacefully. Red birds suddenly appeared everywhere I looked. It Is Well (With My Soul) of course, was one of the songs chosen for his funeral. To this day, when I hear that song or see a red bird, I am reminded of the true miracle that we were given as we spent my Daddy’s final days with him. The peace I am able to rekindle when I think about those tumultuous, yet beautiful days is truly that which “passes all understanding”.

So, when I created this blog, I chose the name “Peaceful Ahead” because my definition of peace is no longer the same. It does not mean that I will not face sadness, disappointment, or hardship. It means that I know that God has a plan, and that the miracles He presents are not always those we pray for or envision, yet they are exactly what we need when we need it most.

With that, I’d like to wish you all a day and life that’s truly peaceful ahead.

Instagram: @peacefulahead

staceyfade@peacefulahead.blog