June 20, 2022
My first Father’s Day as a father was 40 years ago today – June 20, 1982. I had just finished up my first year as a graduate student at Indiana University. In February of 1982 I met Marion Krefeldt, who did not fall in love with me as quickly as I feel in love with her. But by May-ish we were living together at her apartment with her two kids Kai and Tony. Kai was six; Tony had turned three between the time I met Marion and Father’s Day that year. What I was doing was of course utterly insane for a first year graduate student. But I had fallen in love with all three and there was no going back.
At that time we were attending a tiny country church well west of Bloomington, IN. Father’s day was a Sunday in 1982 – just like this year. During the service the Pastor announced that each father was going to get a special lapel pin on their way out of church that day. On our way out the Pastor looked at me and said “Here, you get one of these” and put a lapel pin on my suit coat.
In due time Marion and I got married, with Kai as our flower girl and Tony as the ring bearer. Then I adopted Kai and Tony. I am their Dad. Just ask anyone who ever did them wrong.
When I first me Marion two of my life goals were to never have kids and to never have a pet cat. One of those goals went down in flames in a matter of weeks, the other in a matter of months. I am ever grateful to Marion, Kai, and Tony for that. I am sure I learned more from my kids than they learned from me. I hope I was at least reasonably good at being a father. Not that things were easy. Starting a family and finishing a Ph.D. are not activities that naturally fit well together. But we were on the whole a happy family. Now I get to be an Opa as well as a father. And I am a much better and much happier person than I would have been without Kai and Tony.
I had been committed to making the four of us a family before my first Father’s Day as a Father, forty years ago today. But that Pastor’s simple gesture of putting a Father’s Day lapel pin on my led me to redouble my commitment. I have been grateful to him ever since.