A Dad for All Seasons

Jonathan Myrick, with his Little League team, was described as committed "to all of his surrogate sons on the team."
Jonathan Myrick, with his Little League team, was described as committed "to all of his surrogate sons on the team." (By Marvin Joseph -- The Washington Post)
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By Donna St. George
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 15, 2008

With baseball season winding down and a summer of swim meets ahead, Jonathan Myrick, a single father of two, considers the evening's balancing act as he walks in the door from work.

Zachary, 11, needs a ride to batting practice. Dylan, 9, is due at the neighborhood pool. Phone messages are stacked up on the answering machine. Dinner is not made. Mercifully, his sons have no homework, and Myrick, a corporate controller for a government contracting firm, is home from the office earlier than usual.

For Myrick, this is an easy evening.

As he approaches another Father's Day, Myrick, 44, sees himself as just another dad who is lucky enough to live in the tight-knit Vienna neighborhood of Shouse Village, where helping another family with a couple of hours of child care or a ride to a ballgame is the norm.

But neighbors and friends see more. They say it is not just that Myrick has forged on with his sons after his wife died five years ago. It is that he has taken on so many other children, too, having coached more than 35 sports teams in the past six years.

He has done this as he has juggled his sons' needs and a full-time job, all the while maintaining a presence in his community -- volunteering at the neighborhood pool, chaperoning field trips, hosting a monthly dads' poker night.

"He's so on top of it," said Carey Hitchcock, who lives down the street. "He makes all of us stay-home moms look bad."

Said his next-door neighbor, Judy Laufman: "He's just been a great, engaged Mr. Mom/Mr. Dad, and they are both great kids -- and to have two sons have that as the father role model is just terrific."

The way Myrick sees it, his neighborhood has made his life as a single father far more manageable.

Not far from the lush, rolling landscape of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, this was the place where he and his wife, Cathy, bought a home when their boys were young. They liked the pool and play area, the little lake and woods, the way it seemed that kids could run down the block and play outside.

But in 2003, Cathy grew ill with a genetic disorder of the blood vessels, which ultimately required a liver transplant. The surgery did not go well. A day before Mother's Day, she died. She was 40; the boys were 6 and 4.

Myrick had no idea how to start life as a single parent. He just did. Thinking back, he said: "You just focus on the kids and go from there."

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