Violent staccatos of the jackhammer coupled with rhythmic pounding of nails and muffled obscenities comprise the symphony of the construction site that has been my father’s accompaniment more than half of his life. While initially a position as a laborer seemed appealing to a junior in high school, strenuous physical labor loses its glamour to a man eclipsing fifty with a son about to enter college. As I battled through high school, I always found myself using my father as a blueprint to build me into the person I am today. If I could have only one friend for the rest of my life, I would choose my father; he has taught me lessons that I will never forget as long as I live.
My father will be the first one to admit that he regrets postponing college and has always instilled in me the importance of education. I see the importance of education every night in the scratches and calluses on his hands and the ache in his knees. After every scholarship or award I receive, my father firmly shakes my hand and I tacitly promise to ease his pain. As I fill out my college applications, I officially become the first member of my family to apply to college immediately after high school. I broke the chain because while my friends spent summer at the beach, I worked to save money for my future. While my friends honed their wakeboarding skills, I discovered my passion for politics on the campaign trail. I never faltered because every night I gazed into a set of the proudest eyes before I went to bed.
I remember that several weeks after my parents attended my middle school graduation, I had the enormous honor of congratulating my father after he realized his dream and got a college diploma, albeit 30 years overdue. My father’s college diploma reminds me that, no matter how bleak a situation may appear, I have the power to better it through diligence. As a freshman, my school resembled more accurately a 3 year-old construction site with tradition and identity yet to be established. However, rather than become discouraged, I took the initiative to pioneer Mock Trial, Speech and Debate and Junior State of America—things of which my father nor my school had never heard. In a school stained with prejudice, I co-founded Unity Through Diversity to advocate tolerance of all races, sexual orientations and faiths. In a community bitterly divided by political affiliation and marred by apathy, I spearheaded the Junior State of America to promote intelligent political discourse and activism. In a school with zero football victories, our freshman Mock Trial team gave the school championship trophies and pride.
My father is not only a member of my family; he is a friend who I can talk to after a tough day. With the clock ticking down until I leave home for college and my father working longer days and weeks, I relish every moment with him. However, I also realize that I must stand on my own. It is not my father’s responsibility to make sure that I get what I want out of life; I must do this independently. As I say my final farewell to my father, I will forever remember that he has given me tools, but it is my job to use them to craft my future.
Huber, Nick. "Describe a Person Who’s Had an Influence on You - "Dad"" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 07 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Mar. 2018. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/harvard/dad/>.
TEAMDAD partnered with University of Phoenix to conduct the 2103 Military Fatherhood Essay Contest in Okinawa, Japan. Students were asked to write essays to the theme “What My Father Means To Me.” In total more than 400 essays were collected from the children of servicemen stationed in Okinawa. 10 essay finalists and their dads were selected as winners.
Here is Teresa Ostrowski's Essay (Lester Middle School, 8th Grade).
One of the most important people in my life is my father, Colonel John A. Ostrowski. He shares a very deep, faith-filled relationship with me that is a very important blessing in my life. He is a very intelligent, good-hearted man who is outstanding for a variety of reasons.
I admire my dad because even though he has a stressful job, he manages to make time to talk to my family about big decisions in our life. Also, through everything that he goes through, my dad keeps a level-head and reasons logically before making decisions. How he manages to stay so calm under stress, I will never understand.
Another special quality about my dad is that he is extremely good at staying strong and brave. Recently his brother, Cmdr. Paul Ostrowski, passed away while battling Melanoma. It has been really rough on my dad, but he has been stronger than I’ve ever seen anyone. He looks at the positive side of every situation, like this one, and maintains a cheerful attitude.
The personal relationship I share with my dad is absolutely priceless. My dad is always there for me and helps me be the best at what I do. He dedicates his time to help me improve in my schoolwork and sports. He has regular conversations with me about everything that’s going on in my life and makes corny jokes that bring a smile to my face. I couldn’t ask for a better father and role model than him.
Here is John Ostrowski’s (Teresa’s Dad’s) Response:
I am very please that Teresa value our relationship. She very important to me and I try to provide her with the guidance I think she needs to succeed in life. I take every opportunity to share lessons in our Catholic faith so she grows in right relationship with God. I also share my practical experience with her and relate them to this state of her life. I realize from my own life that the “early teens” can be a very challenging time for young people, so I take advantage of teachable moments to help her contextualize events, thoughts, or emotions in her life so she can make better sense of her experiences and continue to mature in a healthy, happy, faithful manner.
In my estimate, parenting is not something based on a known checklist or cookbook recipe, but is rather a series of decisions and judgments undertaken to the best our knowledge and ability, based on the desire to provide our children an environment to love, security, and encouragement for their healthy growth in mind, body and spirit.
Military children have unique challenges, but I have endeavored to use my military experiences and skill to assist with my fathering. The life experiences and context I share with Teresa are drawn in large part from my military experiences, to include my interactions with many cultures, as well as observations of conditions, in many other countries around the globe.
I am pleased, based on Teresa’s essay, to see that perhaps some of my efforts may be bearing some fruit. My relationship with Teresa is very important, so I resolve to continue to be, as her father, a source of life-giving counsel so she might mature into a successful, confident, and faith-filled woman and citizen.
If you’d like to receive a collection of a couple of dozen inspirational essays, like the one above, please go to: www.teamdad.com and click resources. The Me And My Dad essay guide also includes a 7- Session curriculum, which is a great way for a small group of dads to read, reflect and resolve to be better dads. Proceeds from the essay guides go to support father-child programs.
From DAD To DAD, it’s very moving to read authentic messages about being a dad, especially those who are really making a difference in the lives of their kids and others.