Kind Words

“This essay is dedicated to the fathers in my life. My Papaw (who is my Mom’s Dad), my step Father, Pete Diaz (who is my Cousins husband and the Father to my 3 nieces Zoe, Ellenore, and Izzy), and 2 of my mentors Tim Eads and Tom Woodard.

With Fathers Day approaching, it’s a good time to reflect back on the kind words that have graced our lives. We look back at the men in our lives who have given us love, hugs, and many, many kind words. There are the men in the community who are our fathers, brothers, grandfathers, pastors, mentors, neighbors, friends, bosses, and community leaders.

These people who have taken the time out of their life to teach us and grow with us as we walk hand-in-hand down the journey of life. Some of these men we embrace have been with us in our family since birth and are blood related, while others have become friends and family by choice. My biological Papaw, once helped raise me and now I am caring for him. My Mom’s second husband whom I choose to call Dad, or the man who married my cousin and became my cousin of choice who has helped and guided me in life. Take my mentor and boss, who is like a father to many of us at Westwood Avenue, the agency where I work, and my other mentor and best friend, Chief Eads of the Belle Meade Police Department. And then lastly but, always first in my heart, is the greatest father of all, our Father in Heaven.

Today as I am coming up on my 35th birthday and my Papaw is in his late 90s. I find myself caring for him in my own home. I am ever so grateful to care for him.

Every time a holiday like Fathers Day approaches we ask our Papaw what he wants for a gift he always says “kind words.” As small child, these “words” where always a mystery to me. How could you wrap up a word in a gift? You can’t play with kind words, it’s not a toy. So then, how could one want kind words? Why wouldn’t they want a toy, Play-Doh, Crayola crayons, or markers? I mean COME ON… what’s better than a toy? Then I got old(er). I learned what it meant to be kind and have “kind words.”    I learned to say kind words, and I learned how they can be a virtue. Why? Because I, too, long for the same “kind words,” and I too look for comfort in the simple things.

Today, I can give my Papaw and many other people “kind words.” I also recognize the kind things that my Papaw says to me. The same silly jokes, humor, and kindness he has shared with me my entire life. Even though my Papaw is in his mid-90s, he’s the biggest jokester around, and he’s not afraid to sing “I’m a Little Teapot” or monkey around and play silly in public. He still plays with his silverware and curses (pushes) away his plate. What Papaw says in all his goofy tactics, is indeed his way of showing “kind words.”

Kind words can be a nickname or a silly greeting as well. For example one of my mentors, Tim Eads, who is the Police Chief in my community, calls me “KID.” Every time he says this, it warms my heart. He also has recognized me as being a part of the Police Department and includes me in things that they do. The value of being included and loved are all forms of “kind words.” The advice he gives and the love he shows me are all things that are kind. Tim has guided me down smooth roads and rocky roads and he has helped me become a better person, and even an honorary cop.

Some men are given to us by family, such as my Mom’s second husband Mike. This is the man I call my Dad, even though he’s not my birth father. My Dad has his own way of showing “kind words.” Whenever one of my publications comes out he always calls to congratulate me and make me feel special. My Dad came into my life in about fourth or fifth grade so, he has been able to come to most all of my performances at school, and he came to my Black Belt Testing in Taekwondo, and all of my major graduations in life. He is special and means the world to me.

Another man in my life that was given to me by my family, is Pete. Pete is my cousin’s husband. He is the father to my nieces Izzy, Zoe, and Elley. They live in Texas, but despite the distance he is able to be a blessing in my life. Each time we speak they always share their happiness with me, and they lift me up by being proud of me. This is their gift of “kind words.”

Often times God places mentors in our paths. This is the case with my boss, Tom Woodard. Tom definitely didn’t stumble into my life by accident. I do believe that it was a divine intervention that brought us together. My boss is the best ever. He lifts me up every day, and his version of kindness is contagious. He has taught me more about business and how to be professional than any other person. Guiding me and showing me the in’s and out’s and the do’s and don’ts in life, as well as in a professional setting. His love for God is incredible, and his love for others truly shines. Every word out of his mouth is indeed a “kind word.”

The last on this list, but the  first in my thoughts is the Lord God most high, Our Father in heaven. Many people think that Father’s Day is just about our earthly fathers, but we also need to remember that there is a Heavenly Creator up there who loves us more than anything. He created us, and gave us the very air we breathe. He created our hearts and gave us the will to love Him and serve Him with great awe. I know you can’t give presents to God, but we can give Him the gift of “KIND WORDS.” Not only to Him but others around us, as we are all children of God.

In conclusion, there are all types of ways to celebrate Father’s Day. I hope, though, you’ll take the time to offer “kind words” to the men and mentors in your life.”- Lauren Barnes

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