Fathers are strong, they are protective, they teach us about life. Some want us to experience life to the fullest, while others try to protect us from every hurt. They are powerful role models. The following stories share a variety of perspectives.

My dad truly was amazing. He was a New York City television director for Ed Sullivan and “Sesame Street.” He traveled the world to direct Miss Universe and Miss America pageants, and NASA space launches and landings. He also was a magnificent artist, exhibited in elite galleries, featured in magazines, and sold to well-known actors and recording artists.

He was strong, teaching me jiu-jitsu from his Marine days. Charismatic and comfortable with celebrities, he was genuine. He taught me to follow my heart. He explained that the pain and disappointment we all endure throughout our lives makes small cracks in our hearts, which we need to make room for joy and love to come into our lives. He never raised his hand or his voice.

When I came in late, he asked why I missed curfew. My excuse; I didn’t have a watch, and lost track of time. He calmly replied that I could go out with my friends when I earned enough money from baby-sitting to buy myself a watch. That was his way of grounding me; a lesson of natural consequences. He died 12 years ago, but is with me every day.

I honor all fathers who have given their time or their lives to fight for our safety. Living close to NYC on 9/11, I understand danger and fear, and truly respect those who continue to face it every day. Fathers are strong, they are protective, they teach us about life. Some want us to experience life to the fullest, while others try to protect us from every hurt. They are powerful role models. The following stories share a variety of perspectives.

A view as father

“When I think of fatherhood I think about the children who must learn about hardship, isolation, fear and even responsibility — experiences that affect them into adulthood,” wrote Rich Dever, a friend. “Before Katie was born I knew I wanted her to grow up never knowing fear — surrounded by people who love her and make her feel safe. For now, I have the responsibility and the privilege of defining her world, so she can become confident, independent, inquisitive and kind. As she grows older my responsibilities will change and I will have to let her figure things out by herself. As she grows I will help her understand the harshness that life sometimes has to offer. For now, goldfish live forever and she is only “scaredy” when it is followed by a giggle.”

Another friend, Carl Pandoli, is a great-grandfather. As a father, providing for his family was the most important thing he could do. Although he sometimes worked late, he always kissed his children goodnight, even if they were fast asleep. His spoke of responsibility and protection. I watch him with his adult grandchildren. He is a soft touch; guiding them, offering his wisdom. As a great-grandfather, he gently holds Sophia, who once fit in his one, large hand, with pure love and joy.

My husband, Robert, describes his father as a proud Italian immigrant who built his success on hard work, ensuring that his children lived a better life than he did. A proud sergeant in the Airborne Division of the Army, he returned from war to teach his children the importance of family and honor. He saved for their college, working late nights as a drummer in a big band to supplement his day job as an upholsterer. Although some could see only his military side, he displayed a fun, loving side by splurging on ice cream cones and coddling his grandchildren. He carried his unending love for his wife, Mary, Robert’s mom, until the day he died.

Children remember

I asked Robert’s children to share their thoughts of their dad. They described him as a gentle guardian and willing teacher.

“He created excitement and wonder by building a treehouse on our shed, and provided endless fun by throwing us around in the town lake. He was the teacher who quizzed us during summer break to keep our brains active. He was the comedian who wore his Goofy hat all over Disney World, even though he looked silly.

“As we’ve grown older, Dad has become someone to share precious and enjoyable meals with. He is the one who gives really good advice. He gives it without judgment, with a lot of thought and love. He is an unshakable pillar of strength and knowledge. He gives his love unconditionally and leads by his words and his actions.”

Over years, Robert has become a role model to his children.

“I hope that as I move further into adulthood, I will carry some of my dad’s strength, kindness, and generosity,” said one. “When others say I remind them of my dad, I smile and beam with pride. A father is someone who has children, but a dad is a parent with compassion, and a role model. Father’s Day is one day a year to say thanks, but I am grateful for my dad 365 days a year.”

To all dads, we thank you.

Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting educator in Stark County, Ohio, whose column appears weekly in The Repository. Send your child-rearing questions to FamilyMatters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton OH 44702.