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Sharing a father’s mission

It doesn’t make much sense to be thinking more about my dad in the days before this year’s Father’s Day than I ever did when he was alive, but I guess that’s how this sort of thing works. The man who would occasionally get a card — maybe even a new book — when I remembered before the third Sunday in June has been on my mind for days.

Truth be told there’s something every day that makes him pop into my mind, but this is a little different.

Some colleagues of mine made an attention-getting move with the small newspaper they own and operate the other day. In the midst of my awe, I found myself picturing the grin on Dad’s face. He would have been just beaming — proud of friends he’d known his whole career. He would have been laughing that laugh that could be heard across the newsroom and made people lift their heads from their keyboard, looking toward his office to watch for him to come around the corner to tell them what was so funny.

He liked to share the things that made him laugh. (Although, to be fair, the whole newsroom knew it if there was something that had made him angry, too.)

One of the leaders of an organization he adored got in touch with me. She asked if I might consider becoming involved in the group now. I’m not ready for that just yet. But soon, I told her. Maybe next year. It’s hard to picture anyone but Dad weighing in on some of that stuff. But it’s an organization that brought him a lot of joy, in part because he liked to share that with people, too.

And last weekend I spent some time in a place I’d never been. It was an old house — built in 1895 — in Hacker Valley, just outside Holly River State Park. It is BEAUTIFUL down there. Walking with a friend, I looked at the river gurgling beside us while the mountains hovering high above it let off steam after a morning of rain. She knew what I was about to say before I said it, but I couldn’t help myself. I said out loud “This is what Dad loved about West Virginia. This is what people need to see.”

He tried mightily to share that, as well — though most years it was just family and friends he could convince to spend a few days in a campsite somewhere while he worked to squeeze in as much of Almost Heaven as the time would allow.

This Father’s Day, I’m realizing how well that word describes his mission as a dad. Share: lessons, joy, beauty … and pain, frustration and anger, too. Those were not meant to be borne alone.

Because he operated that way, those with whom he shared the enormous life he crammed into too-short years are now able to do the same.

I think most fathers try to do that, in whatever way they can. Kids don’t always notice at the time. I didn’t. But someday it will be one of the most important things their fathers did for them.

To those of you still working on it, then, Happy Father’s Day — you’ve earned it.

And, to Dad: Yet again, thank you.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com

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