The Superior Express -

What makes a dad?

 


Back in May, my friend, Lori, posted a picture on Facebook of her husband and grandson; it tugged at my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Newt is the same age as our granddaughter, Hailey. I cried because I knew that finally Avery was getting those grandparent moments with Newt that I’ve captured countless times with my husband ,Ray, and Hailey.

Shortly after Newt’s first birthday he contracted E. coli. He was in the minority group where the bacteria sent his little body into a medical spiral which put him in the hospital for nine straight months and several hospital stays over the next nine months. He suffered a stroke during all this, lost his vision and it impacted his capacity for physical movement. It was a long tough road for Newt and his family, but they never gave up. If any family could stay strong through a challenge, it’s the Avery Scott family.

Today Newt is a happy little boy despite all the challenges and changes in his young life. He recognizes Grandpa’s voice and loves his trampoline. He has a little walker to pull himself up. He turns four in October. His happiness is everything his parents and grandparents could have hoped for.

When Avery met Lori, she was divorced with two young boys. His heart welcomed the boys. As they grew, Avery supported their dreams of horses, rodeo and livestock. Like many dads, Avery wished for a child of his own, so he and Lori began the adoption process. The luckiest little girl in Russia soon found her way to Minnesota at the age of two. It would take two years of never giving up by her dad to build trust. She had never been around a man because at the orphanage it was all women.

Avery found ways to bridge the gap. The farm was the perfect place. He took her for rides on the tractor and filled their farm with animals, which have become her first love. Avery would find strays and orphans to bring home; and of course, every girl needs a horse. There was a poor donkey who was near death but managed to live a full life, braying early (before coffee!), much to his wife’s dismay.

Anna had her own medical challenges as she didn’t grow like other children her age. Avery and Lori remained steadfast to find the best doctors and treatments. She may not be tall but farm life and the influence of two active older brothers and her father’s additions to the critter collection helped her grow tall in mind and spirit. Today she can hold her own ground with a bow, a horse and even a backhoe. Her mother said father and daughter are like Mutt and Jeff.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Avery had the pity pet of the week bringing home calves, a puppy, baby chicks and a couple goats. Lori told me once, if he brings home a monkey, I am out of here! (I really should have sent her a stuffed Curious George.) Avery knew what Anna needed to keep her focused during lockdown and not being in school. Her father knew what she needed to flourish.

Ave, as many of us call him, is the role model of what a father should be but also what can be. A father doesn’t have to share DNA with his children to be a strong role mode, protect them, guide them, discipline them and provide for them, be willing to move heaven and earth to keep them safe and healthy, but mostly love them. Lori said there was a day in the hospital when Newt was able to sit up and both her son, Cam, and Avery were with Newt. In that moment, she knew her family was so blessed to have Ave’s strength and character and how his influence has impacted them all.

You probably know of a dad who reminds you of Ave. Maybe your own, or what you see in your husband or your son. I watch Ray’s son, Zach, reason with his girls and set boundaries for them (and accept that boundaries do not exist at Grandma’s except for no juice cups on the carpet.) He’s a young father building a relationship with his daughters that will last them a lifetime. Like our hero Ave, the girls will always be able to count on their dad, and it goes without saying, grandpa, too.

Since we are getting on with life after too long in lockdown, use precautions as needed, but please make the most of this Father’s Day with hugs, kisses, visits and lots of pictures as you celebrate what makes a father, whether or not they share legal names or DNA.

 

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