This Father’s Day I can’t help but look at my son Jamie with his two boys crawling all over him, and think about how much the times have changed. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to see the role of fatherhood change with the tides. Back when I was growing up, it was a man’s world, y’all, and no one knew this more than Granddaddy Paul. He was a product of his time. He was a very clever businessman and liked to spend his money on nice things, like buying himself a new Lincoln Continental every year. I can remember he and my grandmother having very loud “discussions,” and I’ll bet he came out on the winning end most of the time.
My two boys, Jamie and Bobby, when they were very young. It seems like just yesterday! Who would have ever thought they would grow into such handsome men!
I knew better than to aggravate Granddaddy Paul, but it was a different story with Granddaddy Heirs. He grew up in the same era, but he was more tolerant of children—especially a little She-Devil like myself. He was a very quiet, tall, beautiful man with piercing blue eyes and dark hair that covered his arms. I would run by and twist the hair on his arms. Then I’d give him a few minutes to forget about it before I’d run by again with a comb, snatching the hair out of his arm. Only once did I make him furious—furious beyond belief. His Social Security check had come in and I hid it. I let him look for a long time. I thought I’d be the hero when I told him where it was—like I had found it—but he didn’t see it that way. He went bananas. I remember telling Grandma to tell my Aunt Jessie to come get me ‘cause I was sure Granddaddy hated me.
My own daddy wasn’t perfect—he aggravated Momma plenty playing cards with the boys and coming home late—but perfect never mattered to me. He was a wonderful man who provided for his family. He was very loving and playful, but he could be really stern when he had something important to say, like when I would forget my place.
My husband, Michael, and his two wonderful children, Michelle and Anthony.
Things are so different nowadays. Father’s have a much bigger role in their children’s lives. They don’t just swoop in for dinner and a scolding. They change diapers, they make dinner, they sit in the carpool line. They step up to the plate, like my husband Michael did. He got custody of his children when Anthony was 14 and Michelle was 16 and worked 120 hours a week. But he never backed away. He met the challenges of raising two teenagers alone head-on.
My brother, Bubba, with my boys, Jamie and Bobby, when they were all younger. Bubba was and still is such a help to me.
Bubba faced some similar challenges with a no nonsense approach to parenting. He taught his children to be independent—to make decisions on their own. It was his way of preparing them for the world and I’m certain it was a priceless gift.
My son, Jamie, with his beautiful wife, Brooke, and two sons, Matthew and Jack.
But I have to admit that Jamie is one of the most fabulous fathers that I’ve had the pleasure of watching. When it comes to his children, he has got the patience of Job. He truly lives every day for his children. And Jack Deen thinks his daddy could move the moon. He tells me how he has to “cuddle buddle” with his daddy every night. I can’t imagine my daddy tucking me into bed each night, but I sure wish I could.
And when it’s Bobby’s turn to take on the role of fatherhood, I know he’ll do a wonderful job. I try to tell him that and he just laughs at me. I guess you have to experience parenthood in order to discover that you can love somebody that much—you can’t tell somebody what that’s gonna feel like.
Sometimes I’m worried about where this world is headed, but less so when I think of the wonderful fathers who are truly available—physically, financially, spiritually and emotionally—for their families. Those are the men I thank my lucky stars for each and every Father’s Day.
I’ve been blessed with a big, wonderful family—and I don’t mean “family” just in the sense of blood relations. See, I consider all of the special people in my life as family, and I treat them as such, keeping them close to my heart. I’m especially thankful for the stand-up, generous, and talented men in my life, who have been fiercely loyal to me since the day we met.