I love this picture of my dad, taken in 1944 during his senior year of high school. In it the smile of a young man, just beginning his journey, lights up the photograph with a grin nearly identical to my own teenage boy - his grandson.
He had no way of knowing that he was to meet my mother and have six children together, who in turn would give him twelve grandchildren and one great granddaughter. He also had no knowledge of the trials life would throw his way, nor the joys that would over ride any sorrow in his life.
My father. A man of integrity and honor. A gentle soul who loves babies and animals, who tends the flower garden with my mom and takes pride in his own small garden at the back of the yard. A man who loves trains and old telephones and at 80 years old, still rides his bicycle around town. A man who doesn't know a stranger and believes in the goodness of his fellow man. A man who adores my mother and has shared almost 60 years of married life with her. A man I am proud of, respect and look up to.
Six children can tax a one-parent income, but I never felt this from my father. He went to work every day, knowing we were safe and loved in my mother's embrace and came home each night with the resolution to keep earning, keep giving, keep going. I always felt valued, and though one of three daughters and one of a brood of kids, felt special. I still do.
These days when I go home, he greets me with that same wonderful smile, worries about me like I'm still 17 and as always, calls me "Lor". He is the pillar in my life that never wavers, remaining steadfast through both shadows and sun. He has given me a name that I will always treasure, knowing it was handed down in honor by a man whose quiet goodness is matched by few.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. Thank you for all you have done and given me. No matter where I go or what last name I bear, inside I will always be a Slater, and because of that...... I'm rich.