It has been a long time since I took the time to really look at myself as a man, as a father and a husband. I looked in the mirror the other day and didn’t see myself. Looking back at me, I saw my dad. I could see the lines of heredity in my face, passed down through the generations. It was a deep thought – the soul, look, or essence of my bloodline so vivid in the mirror. I could see the lessons I had learned and continue to learn from my father and grandfather. As I stared, my thoughts drifted to my own son, and my daughters, and my wife – and how this hereditary evolution will continue well beyond my years.
There is no true measure for success in being a father or a parent other than wanting my kids to always be happy and healthy. This year, we will see our children off to college and leave the nest, but I still hope that I will always be able to take their pain and throw it away.
These last few months have been a time of reflection and celebration for me. I hope that something I may have said or done over the years has resonated, or will at some point in their lives.
And I want my experiences of war not to scare them, but to help them learn and grow. I don’t want the after-effects of combat to control how I interact with my children, but rather help us grow closer and understand each other and our lives a little better.
I also understand that this is harder done than said. But every day I thank my wife for making me a father and sharing in this ultimate responsibility. I will always love my children unconditionally, like I love my father.
This Father’s day, I will continue to grow as a father and as a man, but I also want to take the time to acknowledge and thank all the other father’s I know and that I don’t know.
Thank you to those who have been in harm’s way or are in harm’s way through their service to this nation.
Thank you to the ones that have supported a spouse with unwavering dedication and love while they serve this nation.
Thank you to the grandfather that watches the grandkids kids while both parents are far away from home.
And thank you to the neighbor’s husband who was able to help out with a broken water heater, flat tire, trips to the emergency room, mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, etc. while other father’s like me were deployed.
While I continue my outreach at Code of Support, and I interact with more and more veterans – who are fathers, I can only hope that as we talk, they may view me not only as a peer navigator, not only as a friend, but as a father in some cases – using my experiences in the military and as a father – to help them through their own struggles and issues.
Brave Rifles! Out Front! Climb to Glory! Strike! Rendezvous with Destiny!
LTC Andy Kaufmann, Ret.