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What to do with a Daddy Deficit?


An expedition to Ft. Wayne Saturday felt like a visit to three different churches, even though it was really a stop at an antique store, a music complex and a concert. With a great meal in between. Every place we went on Saturday looked to me like a display of a father's heart.

My favorite antique store--Delany's on Broadway--usually isn't open when I'm in town. When it is my pulse quickens. Four floors of miscellaneous treasures in an old doctor's residence, piled just high enough to excite interest but not so much that I'm overwhelmed, and fair pricing. It's there because a dad bought the building after its previous owner closed the antique shop she'd run there for decades. (In her day, it was so jam-full you pretty much had to go outside to change your mind. Now you can see the stunning staircase.)



This father bought the building so two of his eleven kids could run their upholstery business out of it, and they do. He happened to be there on Saturday, smiling and selling mechanical oddments to my husband and historical treasures to me. A retired electrician, he remembered repairing my antique Cupid lamp years ago -

--an accomplishment I doubt could have been done by anyone else. He spent three months thinking about the repair before he hit upon a solution, which he implemented...and charged me twenty bucks. Quirky electrical sculptures are a sideline of his, too.


The story I think I remember correctly is that the eleven kids and spouses and grandkids, et al, still get together for brunch at the family home every Sunday after church. This is a clan with local roots so deep that if they were pulled up I think Ft. Wayne would fall apart. That's what real fatherhood does--it reaches down to root us in solid ground, and it reaches up to support the lives of children and people in its vicinity. It's creative and inventive, seeking solutions and ways to help, and always in the mind's eye of a good father is a vision for the future. We left the store with our treasure in hand and a glow in our hearts.

Later we visited Sweetwater Sound, the company Chuck Surack started in 1979 out of the back of a VW microbus. The company is now a local legend and a worldwide entity (check out their Wikipedia entry) and we visited it because Chuck celebrated his wife Lisa's birthday by giving a free Tower of Power concert for employees and interested parties. We picked up our tickets and toured the Sweetwater campus--where more than a thousand employees receive all sorts of services, a healthy and classy environment--and a two-story spiral slide!

A pervasive generosity infuses the place, and infused our evening. (The concert, at the Embassy theater, was a delight. So much funk!) That's a fatherly thing, looking out for others, looking beyond the day's profit and into the future. And remembering, too, the need to celebrate life's milestones and important moments.

At the concert, the band reviewed their forty-nine year (!!) history, requested continued prayer for absent members who'd been in an accident, touted their new album--and played their hearts out. And I thought of the staying power of fathering.


Too many of us grew up without much fathering. Kris Vallotton says "we are the most fatherless generation in the history of the world." I don't know if he's right, but we're certainly in the running. There's a hitch in our gitalong as we go through life that's only righted with a father's touch. I know I fight a tendency to stinginess, and fearfulness, every day, based on a core belief that there won't be enough left to provide for me. In my family, I was on my own, largely without provision at critical junctures.

So, what to do with the deficit? The first thing is to live a daily forgiveness. My dad did the best he could with the tools he had--after all, his father taught him to swim by tossing him off a bridge! I look for, and soak in, times like I had at Delany's and at Sweetwater. They provide a healing balm, encouraging me to give more, dare more, believe more. It's up to me to act on the inspiration, so that I draw from it and use it as an impetus for forward progress.



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