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DAD STORIES

A CEREMONY OF A LIFETIMEJim Zetz was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer and given only a few months to live. On his daughter Josie's eleventh birthday, his back yard was decorated, and Jim did something he would not live to do later. He walked her down the aisle. The pastor pronounced them “father and daughter.” After the ceremony, the family went on a cruise to Hawaii. Jim died in 2014 at the age of 62. After his death, his wife Grace said, “He was the bravest person I knew because his dignity as a man stood steadfast through it all.” 

Someday the video of the backyard ceremony will mean the world to her. Because it’s more than a video. It was one of Jim's last gestures of devotion to his daughter. What do you think his steadfast love to the very end will teach her?  Do you think Josie will become a woman with the courage to stand strong in the storms of life? Jim showed her how. 

 

Josie started a blog, "Josie's Journal" where she offered support to families suffering with cancer. View a video of the event created by others for Jim and Josie here: Walk me down the aisle daddy.

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AN ORDINARY CORNER: 57th and 5th is an ordinary corner in New York. Steve Addis was there with his daughter on her first birthday, and his wife took their picture.  A year later, his wife took the same picture, on the same corner, on the same day.

 

She suggested they make it a tradition. “Why don’t you take Sabina back to that corner on her birthday every year and make it a father/daughter thing?” So he did.

 

In the first picture on that corner, she’s a baby in his arms. Later, she’s eighteen and beginning to look at colleges. In the most recent one, she’s twenty-three, a grown woman and still standing on that corner with her dad on her birthday.

 

If someday, someone asks Sabina her best memory of her dad, what will she say? Good chance it will be this tradition, but what about it? What about a man who kept his word faithfully for 23 years will make a difference in her life?

 

Do you think Sabina will expect the men in her life to keep their promises?

 

Steve once gave a TED talk on his tradition. He said, “One of the most important things we all make are memories. I want to share the idea of taking an active role in consciously creating memories.” He added, “Get in the shot.” Ask a stranger to take the picture. He noted that in 23 years, no one had ever refused. Watch Steven's TED talk - best three minutes of your day: Steven Addis: A father-daughter bond, one photo at a time

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DAD POWER

I once asked Donna to tell me about her dad. Because her book is filled with stories of adventures she went on with him—climbing peaks in Vermont, backpacking trips, hiking trips, and more, I expected her to tell me about that.  But she didn’t. Not exactly.

 

Instead, she talked about the kind of man Frank was, and how he lived his life. She said he was a leader that inspired people, a “master of empowering us and our choices.” In her book, Donna wrote, “Dad always made time to listen". He listened, she said, "with an open heart." He was kind, devoted, and faithful, a powerful and vigorous man who lived life with enthusiasm and "infused me with confidence."

Frank didn't just give Donna his time and attention; he gave her who he was - a good man. 

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WHAT MAKES A GOOD MAN?

Tom Matlack created a movement called the Good Man Project in 2009. He said, “My personal definition of being a good man means trying to make more good decisions on a daily basis than bad. It means showing up for my wife and kids even when it’s not easy. It means trying to help someone else out of generosity rather than greed. It means telling the deepest truth I am capable of. And it means forgiving myself when I fail. Because I still fail. If I make more good decisions than bad on any given day, that is a victory. And I sleep well.”

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THE THIRTEEN-YEAR GIFTWhen Brenna Martin graduated high school, her dad Bryan gave her the classic book "Oh, The Places You’ll Go" by Dr. Seuss. It seemed like an odd and ordinary gift until she opened it. Inside, threaded throughout the book, were notes written by every adult who’d taught her at school, starting with her kindergarten teachers. Every teacher, coach, and every principal. Cash value, less than $20. Thirteen years in the making. Want to read more: The Thirteen Year Gift.

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HORSES AND RODEOS: One evening I was driving down Highway 7 in Colorado, heading toward Estes Park for dinner. I passed the entrance to a large property with an overarching sign that said “Wind River Ranch.” What was that place? I wondered. About halfway to Estes, I turned around, drove into the ranch, and found “Cowboy Don,” who told me Wind River is a Christian dude ranch. After a few minutes of Don telling me what it was like at Wind River, I interrupted him and said I wanted to bring my daughters there. Don said he would love to have us, but they were booked until the following year. Luckily, though, he had cancelation that same day. If we could be there Sunday, we could have the “Meeker” cabin, one of their best.

 

I said yes, and Elizabeth, Rachel and I have been going there ever since. That conversation with Cowboy Don was in 2011, twelve years ago. 

 

Now this is my tradition with Elizabeth and Rachel, my personal “Every Sunday.” They grew up at Wind River Ranch—one summer, one adventure, and love filled week at a time—riding horses, going to country dances, watching rodeos, and attending the weekly “hootenanny.” Wind River is the most peaceful, loving, fun, God-filled place on earth I know of, and I've been lucky to share it with my daughters all these years. 

 

DONUTS AND FLOWERS: One day I had a rough start with my then third-grade daughter, Rachel. We were grouchy all the way to school. She slammed the door without a goodbye. Thirty minutes later, I called the school and told them I needed to take her to an appointment. When she came out, she asked if she had to get shots, her third-grade worst nightmare. “No, I didn’t like the way the day started, and I wondered if we could start over with a cup of hot chocolate and a donut,” I said. She jumped into my arms. One hour, $2. I said sorry for being a grouch.

 

Same kid, 16 years old. Mad at me for two weeks over consequences she got for sneaking out at night. One day I showed up after school with flowers and two Reese’s peanut butter cups. I said, “I know you are mad at me and that’s OK, but I want you to know I still love you. The love never stops.” It broke the spell. We started talking.

 

Big little things. Difficult times do not have to unravel relationships. Instead, they can strengthen them. When in doubt, know that donuts and flowers work. Write that down.

YOUR TURN: Read these stories for ideas and inspiration, dads. If you have a tradition, keep it going. If you don't, start one. If you think it's too late, it's not. 

If you want an idea about how much impact your relationship with her has on her life, read more about Dad Power. If you have a story to tell, I would love to hear from you: Contact Bob

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