January 21, 2011

Guest Blog - Our Father, Who Art in Penn Yan

My name is Steve Westerdahl. I’m Bruce’s son. Dad was born 80 years ago today, on January 21, 1931. This “guest blog” is a way of honoring him on this very special day and is written on behalf of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who love and admire him greatly.

Nobody ever said that being a father was easy. The role requires a diverse skill set and places high demands on even the most well-grounded of men. A father is a provider, a protector, a role model, a teacher, an enforcer, a mediator and a banker. (Somebody once said a father carries pictures where his money used to be.) The job requires patience, perseverance, an infinite amount of energy and the unmitigated capacity to love.

As they dispense with their duties, even the best fathers are under-appreciated by the children they are raising. The recognition tends to come later. Mark Twain said, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years.”

And the stakes of fatherhood are high. We are in many ways reflections of our fathers. Like a garden, a man’s children reflect the amount of weeding he has done in the growing season.

It is significant that “father” is a title given to God, symbolizing His infinite power to love, protect and forgive us. The Bible contains abundant references to the importance of a father in his children’s life. In the Old Testament we are commanded to “honor our father and mother so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

On this special day we honor Bruce Westerdahl, “our father who art in Penn Yan (NY)”. His children, grand-children and great grand-children know we are very fortunate to call him Dad, Grandpa and Great Grandpa. Even in our 50s, Doug, Tammy and I seek his advice and approval. Then, now and forver, we'll be guided by his shining example, steady hand and unconditional love.

In 1901 a pastor in Lockport, NY wrote a hymn titled, “This is My Father’s World.” Today, it’s Bruce Westerdahl’s world and we are all blessed to be in it.