There’s a line in a poem titled, “If I Could Walk With You, Dad” that says, “You taught me without teaching and you gave me from inside, many meanings to this journey though you never knew why.”
The poem appears in the book, “Forgiveness: The Greatest Healer of All” by Gerald G. Jampolsky and conveys the unspoken gifts fathers give to their children.
Below four local dads share a little on what touches them in fatherhood.
David Davis, lives in Sandy Springs and works in Washington, D.C., as legislative director for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. His daughter Mae, 16, is a rising junior at Riverwood International Charter School. Mae was adopted from China when she was three-months-old.
Davis wrote Mae a letter describing his love for her, on her last birthday. An excerpt said, “Today you are 16 and though you are still my little girl and always will be, you are well on your way to becoming the beautiful and talented young woman you are destined to be. The days of watching Sleeping Beauty with you curled up in my lap because you were scared of the witch are long gone but remain some of my most cherished memories of “Mae and daddy” time.”
Hardest part of being a dad: Having a 16-year-old daughter and remembering what 16-year-old boys were like when I was that age. And now that she has a driver’s license, those hours between the time she leaves the driveway and the time she returns.
Best part of being a dad: She is just a wonderful kid. And I can’t imagine a time that she wasn’t in our life. How could life have been interesting? It’s like life was in black and white and now it’s in color. The best part has been watching her flourish.
Best Father’s Day: When she did a handmade card with a bunch of pictures on it and made a list of all the things that were special to her about me.
Eric de Groot is founder of the Holland America Chamber, and a member of Sandy Springs’ Economic Development Committee. His children, Alexis and Skyler are a rising senior and sophomore, respectively, at Riverwood. “There is nothing more rewarding than being a dad,” de Groot said. “It’s the only thing you leave behind.”
Hardest part of being a dad: The biggest challenge is time and balancing a very active and busy lifestyle. If you are as active and energetic and as ambitious as I am, it can be a matter of balancing work and family. And there’s the issue of technology and electronics having penetrated our lives. [For me,] it’s how many people can reach you by email. And for kids it’s how much time they choose to spend playing a game…I point out to my kids that I want them to read on a daily basis, for their own personal growth.
Best part of being a dad: Seeing how they demonstrate love. Seeing how they make good decisions and impact others, and how they will be good contributors to society and great citizens.
Best Father’s Day: Around 2004, when the kids were little and their little hands were put in pottery, they made a big plate that said, “Happy Father’s Day.” When the family gets together and shares their love and there is a personalized gift. What else do you need?
Jack Manning, moved to Sandy Springs several years ago after retiring from General Motors, in Michigan. His son Jack, 36, is a freelance photographer. His daughter Teresa, 33 is a teacher in Birmingham, Mich.
Manning recalled a keepsake that his daughter made in elementary school. “I’ve had it now for almost 30 years. She glued a rock on a block and painted it,” he said.
Hardest part of being a dad: Discipline. You don’t want to [spank] them but you don’t want them to get out of line. Their mother would call me to handle it. You could just holler at my daughter and she would start crying [and melt my heart.]
Best part of being a dad: Seeing them grow up and become productive.
Best Father’s Day: Just hanging out in the yard. The best Father’s Days for me were when I just got to do nothing.
Bob Palma is branch manager of Delta Community Credit Union and member of Leadership Sandy Springs. He has a son and daughter in their early 30s.
Hardest part of being a dad: The biggest part is trying to be the best you can. Staying involved and paying attention to their needs. As they grew up they realized that life wasn’t that concrete…and they could see that if something went wrong you just pick yourself up and keep going forward.
Best part of being a dad: Sharing their life and being a part of the things they take you into, that you never did. A boy and a girl, one takes you into sports, another takes you into dance lessons.
Best Father’s Day: Get togethers with extended family. All the moms and dads and kids are together, that’s usually how we do it.