I still recall the feeling of panic that overcame me when Miss Brooks, our moderator, announced the upcoming pep squad banquet for all cheer members and their moms.

I glanced at my twin sister, Diane. She gave a knowing nod that in an instant told me we would invite Dad and persuade him to attend.

It was the early 1970s, and although divorce was on the rise, a single-parent family run by a father seemed like a rarity — especially in a household of seven kids.

Dad was uneasy and squirmed in his chair when we informed him of the banquet and our wish for him to attend. He gave us numerous reasons he shouldn’t go, occasionally clearing his throat, which he often did when he was nervous.

The past several years had been challenging for us. Initially chaotic, life gradually eased up under Dad’s guidance, as we all came to accept our mother’s departure and the new chores and responsibilities required to keep our household running.

Before we approached Dad, Diane and I had agreed that we weren’t going to back down on our request. But Dad wasn’t giving in either.

Finally, we added: “We’re not calling Mom. You’re the real Mom around here.”

I’ll never forget how proud I was the night of the banquet when I spotted Dad’s smiling face among the sea of moms.

It was just one of many proud moments he gave his kids.

Elizabeth Woiwode,


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