Thoughts On Father’s Day
Father’s Day is actually a bittersweet holiday for me…….
At my birth, an excellent father was mourned. His name was Harry Conover — my grandmother Kathleen’s and Aunt Betty’s father. Mr. Conover died on Flag Day 1959 — and his funeral took place around the time that I was born.
I spent very little time with my biological father — only a handful of years out of 54. Sometimes life just works out that way. But I do not love him any less. I see others who are angry at their father or are very bitter. Since I could never walk even one day in my father’s shoes — I had no right to be angry or bitter. What I had a right to be was understanding, open-minded and forgiving.
One of the major lessons I learned about fatherhood was that a great father did not need to be biological. My uncle Herb Snow was an excellent father in this regard. So was Roy P’Pool. (For three years my brother and I lived in a foster home in St. Louis.) My grandfather Herbert Snow even stepped in for a bit and was an excellent father to me. The lessons that I learned from these great ‘fathers’ would come to play many years later.
As an adult, I had some truly great mentors. A mentor in my book is a father who opens up his heart, wisdom and experience to impact the lives of others. John H. Armstrong, Don Runyon and Arco Rosenow taught me lessons that have become a part of the way that I think and also live my life.
I guess by definition I was not a great father to my own kids. When I was Vice President of Business Development for RMS, I was gone for two weeks every month. While my son took it in stride, my daughter was not as forgiving. For a day before each trip I had to make and then also a day after I returned — she would not speak to me. Then after that she would ‘reset’ and all was fine. The traveling continued when I introduced stannous fluoride products to Mexico — again traveling two weeks per month.
But, when I was home the kids did some very cool things with me that most kids do not get to do. For instance, on the days that I had to deliver brochures to potential prospects, the kids dressed up in their finest clothes and introduced the brochures with me! I can tell you that the best way to get past the ‘gatekeeper’ in a company is to take your young kids along. I had a lot of fun and very unique adventures with my kids when they were young.
Divorce is rarely a good thing. In hindsight, I should have avoided it like the plague. But I didn’t — and on top of it found my future in California and later the Baja. I tried several times to go back to the Midwest — but the door of opportunity was slammed shut both times. I didn’t understand why then –but now I do. However, after the divorce I made sure that my kids had their own telephones so that we could communicate as often as they wanted to. (In the digital age of texting, my kids had many text messages on their phones from their dad.)
After a time in California/Baja I got to know a family. The father had walked away from this family. As the kids grew up, they married and had their own kids. Except for one case, the fathers walked away from their families, too. Over the past eight years, all of the lessons that I learned from great fathers, mentors and the hard way came into play as I tried to help all of these kids. It also opened up my eyes to what was a chronic problem throughout most of the world.
In third world and emerging countries, when a father leaves his family, it pretty much sends the family into poverty. It is no wonder that most of the world’s poor are women and there are over 100 million street children. A lot of things have to change before this epidemic is finally abolished. However, one of my goals has turned into finding efficient and practical ways that single parents in foreign countries can generate all of the money that their family needs per month. Working in a factory or most of the existing jobs open to them will never help them achieve this goal. it must be all about helping turn these folks into mini-entrepreneurs.
As for all of the kids that I love and mentor now — which has grown to 11, like every father and mentor, I probably make as many mistakes with them as I have successes. However, this is where the lessons that I have learned from my father(s) and mentors come into play. For you see, I pass along the excellent lessons that I was taught. I also do a lot of praying for them — that God would work in spite of my many mistakes. For you see, I believe in a Sovereign God that has a purpose for all of us.
So on this Father’s Day 2013, with a heart full of love and gratitude, I send a special Happy Father’s Day wish to my father — Alberto Guillermo Antonio Cota Ducoing; my uncle — Herbert Conover Snow; my grandfather — Herbert Anderson Snow; my foster father — Roy B. P’Pool; and my great mentors — John Armstrong, Don Runyon and Arco Rosenow. Thank you for taking the time to love and teach me…………