I was awakened by the sound of my name, whispered twice. “Suzie.” I lifted my head from the pillow and opened my eyes to see a man framed by the doorway, thin white hair, slightly bent forward in pajamas. The morning light streamed in from behind him.
“Dad?” I whispered back. “I brought you some coffee,” he said. He set down a mug on the bedside table in the summer cottage, and left without another word.
I am the daughter of a good man. Not a master of the universe, a baron or a statesman. A man who worked hard and seemed to hold only the most ordinary of ambitions: the happiness of his family. He is not celebrated by the masses. History books won’t remember him. Pundits don’t seek his opinion. But he is my Dad, and he’s a good man.
In the past months there’s been a lot of attention given to the failings of men, the reckless collisions with their desires and compulsions. Those we consider “great men” often seem to believe too much in their claim to that glory, risking what is precious for the spike of a thrill. These “great” men can appear like meteors, flaming bright and crashing hard.
But it’s the good men who hold us all together.
My dad never demanded recognition. He went to work, walked the dog, coached my soccer team, and beamed at my graduation. He talked about “doing the right thing” in a way that implied “the right thing” was always obvious. He raised his voice so rarely that we giggled when he did, and he regarded my mistakes with little more than a sigh of patience as he waited for me to course-correct. He was — and is — so good.
And good men are heroic. Noble and true. Good men may not command the spotlight, but they harbor our hearts and give us strength. Good men deserve the throne they will never seek.
After my Dad placed the mug of coffee beside my bed, I laid there a long time considering him, gray and receding, his sweetness toned with the years. I clung to my sense of privilege in the morning quiet. I am the daughter of a good man.
With a Perspective, I’m Susan Dix Lyons.
Susan Dix Lyons is Co-Founder and Design Director of a health design organization in San Francisco.