As Father’s Day nears, columnist reflects on the responsibilities fatherhood entails

Carl Hendrickson

Carl Hendrickson

Somewhere along the path of my education, I was informed that a man’s life is not complete until he has accomplished three things — planted a tree, written a book and sired a child.

Perhaps this bit of wisdom came from my studies at St. Louis University, an educational institution noted for its philosophy curriculum.

Planting a tree can be a back-breaking task, but once a tree is in the ground, we can surrender our work to the winds and the rains and let nature take its course.

I have planted many trees. Saplings have grown into mighty oaks during the years I have lived in south county.

Writing is more difficult.

As a columnist, I sometimes think it would be easier to submit my finished product to the wind and the rain rather than to the criticism of my editor and my readers.

I have written columns and books. As I have urged you readers to do, I have written my story for my children and grandchildren.

Unquestionably, however, the hardest of the three tasks is to be a father — not just siring the child.

Many men, whether mature or not, do so every day.

No, being a father takes much more.

It means providing the child with love and care each day as he or she grows and matures and moves toward independence and a completely separate life.

It is a delicate responsibility to raise a child from infancy to adulthood.

The notion of being a father must include the responsibilities of feeding, clothing, educating and raising a child, as well as siring one.

With this notion must come the idea of marriage.

Marriage serves as a school for human enrichment; it is important for the procreation, raising and education of children.

It matters not how much I own or how many trees I have planted or articles written or how large my house is or how much cash I have accumulated.

No. What matters is that I was a loving husband and a good father.

When I die, I want my obituary to simply state that I was married for over one-half century and assisted in raising three sons to adulthood.

That Carl Hendrickson was a loving husband and a good father. This sums up what truly is important.

So, this Father’s Day, I want all the fathers who read my column to remember that it does not matter how many trees you plant or whether you write a column or book.

But it does matter whether you have provided emotional support for the children you sire.

That is “fatherhood.”

Enjoy your special day. You deserve it.