When two owls love each other very much they put on a little Barry White, make a nest, and lay some eggs. When two owls love each other very much, but have to get the hell away from each other because the daddy owl keeps leaving beard trimmings in the sink even though the mommy owl has told him a million times not to do that, they nestle into a quiet, safe tree to roost, preferably separately so the mommy owl can have a glass of wine with her gals and bitch about the daddy owl’s poor grooming habits. In a lot of ways, a roost is more important to the owl than the nest. A roost is where an owl feels safe enough to look for prey, rest, and recharge. A roost is where an owl really feels at home.
I was perusing the Father’s Day card selection at Target the other day looking for the appropriate card for my husband. I wasn’t finding anything to my liking. There were sappy cards, but we’re not a sappy couple. There were funny cards, but they weren’t all that funny. You might think about stepping up your humor game, Target. There were loads of beer guzzling sentiments, but my husband rarely partakes. Nothing fit him. Not one card painted the whole picture of the father that he is.
I began searching the blank cards. I am a writer, after all, and I’ve gotten to know him pretty well over these twentysomething years we’ve been married. Surely, I could write something that would clearly express how important he is as a father. I searched and searched through all the blank cards, but none were catching my eye, Then, one popped out as a contender.
I thought to myself, this is adorable. I can be this owl. Here’s my son, here’s my daughter. Which one is my husband? That’s when it dawned on me. My husband wasn’t any of these owls. My husband was the tree. He is the quiet, safe spot where we all land when we need to recharge. My husband is the roost.
Often it’s the mother that is the roost of a family. That was not my experience as a child. Neither parent fit that role. There was no place to roost. I didn’t have a safe place growing up. There was no place to take a deep breath and recharge. My home was chaotic and emotionally barren. My mother died when I was just a teenager. She was quiet and withdrawn for a lot of my life. I’ve long believed she was suffering from depression in her final years, which made sense because my father was a cold and angry man. Our home was was not fit for man nor beast.
I tried so very hard to create something completely different for my children and I’d like to think I have done that and am currently doing that. I’ve tried to nurture and love and support them in every way that I never had. I’m far from perfect, and often clumsy in my execution, but there’s always heart behind my actions.
The thing is, though, there has never been a safer spot in this family than the one created by my husband. I’ve seen it from the very moment our first child was born. I saw in his eyes the very same fierce love that I had for her. I knew in that moment I would never have to worry about his ability to nurture and protect our brood. There is nothing more important to this man than his children. He is everything a father should be.
More amazing than that is his ability to extend that love to everyone in our circle. Our kids, our kids’ friends, our friends’ kids, hell your kids are welcome in our circle, bring ’em on over. Skinned knee? He’s got a bandaid and a joke for that. Flat tire? He’ll fill it up. Got something stuck in a tree? He’s there. He is, all at once, a tutor, chaperone, mentor, comic, mechanic, and chef.
That circle has only widened in our years together. He’s the first to extend a hand to friends and family and friends of family and family of friends. He has fixed more printers, leaky faucets, and changed more out of reach lightbulbs than any person I’ve ever known. Last October, just a couple of days before a monster hurricane was supposed to hit us directly, with the help of a neighbor and friend, that husband of mine put up hurricane shutters on no less than 8 of our neighbors’ homes. Think of how mighty an oak a man has to be to let so many owls rest upon his limbs.
All of that pales in comparison to the years he spent caring for me while I was ill. From the shocking moment of my diagnosis all the way through recurrence and awful drug regimens to the day I got to tell him it was all over, he was there. He was there when I couldn’t walk. He was there when I was so nauseous and exhausted I longed for death. He was there for my scared children, to protect them and assure them that no matter what everything was going to be okay. And, even though my tumor has brought us nearly to the brink of financial ruin, he remains stoic and unfazed. It’s just the cost of doing business, baby. We’ll be okay.
That’s who my husband is. He’s a father with boundless love for his children. He is their loudest and proudest cheerleader. My husband is strong as an ox, both physically and emotionally. The only thing stronger than him is his paternal instinct. And, that has made him the perfect tree for all the owls in my life to roost. He offers comfort and shelter. He lets us take a breath and rejuvenate ourselves, body and soul, to keep on going. Even if just for a minute, he has been the space so many call home.
I promise you that he would be the last to say that anything I’ve written here is true. That is precisely why I’ve written it and shared it with all of you. That patient, humble, hardworking man deserves to be celebrated today and every day. Thank you, dear husband, for being our roost. Happy Father’s Day.