“Ode to Dad”

I thought about penning down a simple yet profound piece that celebrates fatherhood (June 16, being Fathers’ day) – all classes of Fatherhood at that! I was all by myself yet distracted by my humble self – my thoughts; random, unpredictable, like an old man meandering a staircase! Shouldn’t such write-up appeal to mothers too? And children, on whose behalf one might have to tell mighty lies in the form of odes and poems– a fraction of them though. So, what fraction – since there are children who run, wide-eyed into every black hole in the apartment at the sound of papa’s voice! Do such celebrate Fathers’ day too? Somehow, I arrived at the curious conclusion that ALL children celebrate fathers’ day; either in a black hole or on daddy’s laps. I also mused, how should fathers’ day be celebrated – personalized or generalized? In a ‘man’s world’ where ‘feminists’ are urgently asserting themselves, isn’t it luxurious to dedicate one more day to massaging a man’s already muscular ego? But that would be missing the point, right? Along the line, I stumbled upon a good read by Stephen Balkam and immediately decided to share with you. So, while we should generally wait for people to die before singing endless PRAISE upon PRAISE, let’s at least dedicate a day to pampering the papas, simply put, lets PAPA-SIT!

To all fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers (and above), loving fathers, fathers that spend the night at home (or otherwise), fathers whose phones have as many passwords as there are stars in the sky, visiting fathers, fathers who are mentors, aspiring fathers, spiritual fathers…whoops (I’m exhausted but the list is inexhaustible), HAPPY FATHERS’ DAY! Here’s a piece written by Stephen Balkam, Founder & CEO of Family Online Safety Institute:


In 1965, when I was 10 years old, my father set up his first nonprofit organization.

It was called the Gustave Weigel Society, named after a well-known Jesuit priest who was an early pioneer and promoter of ecumenism — the bringing together of the different Christian dominations. A year later, my dad left his job as a salesman with the wonderfully titled, Acme Visible Records, to work full-time on the new organization from an improvised office in our closed-in back porch.

It wasn’t the smartest of moves. I am one of eight kids and the Society’s operating costs could barely keep a sparrow alive. I delivered the Washington Post and my older brothers and sisters all had part-time jobs so as not to be a drain on the family resources. Somehow dad found a way to keep up the payments while he followed his vision and grew the organization’s scope and reputation.

He ran weekend retreats, edited a newsletter and held together a burgeoning group of like-minded clergy and lay people across the US. He became so well known that he was invited to attend the inaugural International Ecumenical Fellowship conference in Switzerland in 1967 where he met, among other notables, Lady Bronwen Astor. She saw something in my dad – so much so that two years later, we picked up and moved to England to establish a new international charity, with an emphasis on conferences and gatherings of the leaders of the ecumenical movement.

Over the course of the next few years, I watched my dad organize events, write profusely on his manual typewriter and speak in front of hundreds of people at conferences in Holland, Spain and the UK. As a kid, I just thought it was normal that he could do all of this as well as make the best pancakes on a Saturday morning. I didn’t realize until years later, how special he was and how much he had passed on to me simply by modeling how an NGO leader lead.

In my late teens and early twenties, I naturally rebelled and rejected everything my dad (and mom) stood for. I had to find my own way and follow a path as far removed from what he had done as I could. So I went into the corporate tech world and later into PR. And yet, in 1979 I found myself drawn to an eclectic community arts center in north London, InterAction, which just happened to be a pioneering nonprofit organization. I’ve stayed in the sector ever since.

And so here I am, a father myself, heading up an international charity, writing profusely, running conferences and speaking in front of hundreds of people all over the world. I wonder where I get it from. My dad, at 92, continues to be active, volunteering to be the floor rep for his retirement community and advocating for palliative care for those who live with Alzheimer’s. He wakes up each day with more ideas for service and action than some people have in a lifetime. And he’s been the most remarkable model of a man and a father a son could ever hope for.

So, happy Fathers’ Day, dad. Thank you for your service and for showing me the way. I owe you big time.”

There you have it! Think about just one habit you picked up from good old dad, and celebrate him today.

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