For the love of my father

My dad, the father of five, instilled strong values in all of his children. He gave us a love of music; a sense of spirituality; the courage to voice our opinions when all odds are against us. He taught us that it is better to give than to receive and always to consider the feelings of others. I can say with confidence that my brothers and I live these ideals on a daily basis. Certain aspects of our father have become deeply rooted in who we are as individuals. I hope that we reflect back to him the most beautiful parts of himself. Each of his gifts to us, however, comes with a challenge that helps us grow.

Phillip embodies passion. He does nothing halfway, and finds joy and inspiration in whatever he pursues. His challenge is to find that same passion in the mundane, which is often difficult to do. But when he does, his joy for living lifts him so high that he, in turn, inspires others.

Brendan is the essence of loyalty. Family and friends are of the utmost importance to him, and he will do anything to protect them. But he sometimes trusts to a fault, and some people prove unworthy of the loyalty he extends. Brendan needs to draw appropriate boundaries before others take advantage of his good nature.

Jamie personifies generosity and selflessness. If you ask him for help, he will go beyond your expectations and then ask what else he can do for you. He needs to identify when giving too much may hurt rather than help, and that sometimes giving to oneself is the healthiest thing to do.

Gene is the epitome of responsibility. He does what is needed for himself and for others, and always with thoughtfulness and empathy. His gift requires that he balance his sense of responsibility with his own creative abilities.

The quality I seem to embody is motivation. I am driven by a desire to effect positive change in the world, no matter how out of reach it might seem. My challenge is to overcome the tendency to become disenchanted with others, people who don’t realize how great a difference one person can make. Perhaps more accurately, it is my task to find compassion for those individuals and rise above my own frustrations.

As the children of an amazing man, we reflect back to him his own passion, loyalty, generosity, responsibility, and motivation. We also challenge him to work with us, using these gifts to grow, adapt, and constantly seek our better selves.

Dad, thank you for teaching us to live with a purpose higher than merely fulfilling our own desires. I hope you see that we embody the best parts of you in our daily lives; and that we strive to do this with humility, a lot of compassion, and gratitude for your parenting.

Mary Carroll Courtwright teaches psychology and sociology courses at Bryant & Stratton College in Eastlake. Her novel Song of the Messenger was published in 2007. Her father, Eugene B. Carroll, Jr. resides in Cleveland Heights. For more information, visit

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Volume 2, Issue 9, Posted 7:46 PM, 07.28.2009