This inquiry goes deeper than just a name. My father, Jim Woodward, was a great man, who I loved and respected, deeply. He wasn't perfect, he was human, and this has relieved a bit of pressure as I have sought to raise my kids. I have told them for years that they will spend plenty of time on a psychologist's couch as a result of me being their father. Every father has been human, experiencing highs and lows, with fatherhood being a component of their story. We may meet a stranger, strike up a conversation and after an hour, have learned more about who they are as a person than we ever learned about the guy that tried to raise us. There is the surface layer of the resume, the deeper layer of his experiences, and then the core of his motivations and beliefs. Many of the older generation shied away from acknowledging or discussing this deeper level of who they are. These were the guardrails he would have used to guide his care and leadership of you. For some, this relationship was difficult and it pains me to hear stories about where things went wrong. If you are willing to extend forgiveness and seek reconciliation, learning who he was as an individual, may help the process. My family bought me a couple Fathers Day shirts and I selected one with french cuffs, that I don't normally wear. Ensuring I didn't need to add any accessories to the order, I spent some time looking through the cuff links, tie clips and lapel pins in had inherited from my dad. I was reminded that he loved his family and this country, he was proud of me and my time in the Navy and he was proud of his association with the DeMolay organization. I would submit, I experienced the way it is supposed to be, however, he has passed. For those that still have Dad around, I would urge a phone call, soda on the porch or wetting a line, but take advantage of the opportunity to get to know the man.
What was your father's experience with his father? What principles have guided your father through his life and when were these principles most challenged? Who and what were the shaping influences in his life? What do you most appreciate about your father? What have you learned about him that surprised you?