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Fatherhood: a shared journey

By Keith McCarthy, son of resident Tom McCarthy

We celebrate Father’s Day to honor the unique role and niche of fatherhood. My father, Tom McCarthy, and I have an opportunity to enjoy, reflect and celebrate his example of fatherhood that he established for our family for nearly 60 years.

My dad’s father passed away when my dad was 18 years old. At this point, my father partnered with his mother to raise his three siblings — two sisters and one brother. Effectively, he became the patriarch of his family. My father would protect and provide for his brother and sisters.

And it wasn’t too long after his father’s death that my dad was starting a family of his own. He fulfilled his role of fatherhood with the standards he learned in Boy Scouts (trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly) and the virtues he learned from his mother and his religious pursuits.

My dad understood his impact upon the lives around him. He was always a source of support. He would give counsel if asked. He would give help if requested. He was quick with positive affirmations and slow to judge.

He understood the importance of nurturing the unique qualities in each of his five individual children. His actions spoke to the importance of maintaining relationships in a multigenerational family. In my father’s house, service to community and family was an expectation.

As a grandfather of 16 grandchildren, my father witnessed a tight knit family that would get together in its entirety multiple times a year. He witnessed a family web of close bonds and friendships.

Today, my father and I share a journey. Both of us are in the second half of our lives. We take daily trips from Rolla Presbyterian Manor to rural Phelps County, Mo. My father passed down his love for the great outdoors, and we note the daily changes in the nature that surrounds us. We drive past fields and forests. We visit lakes, streams and rivers.

On these outings we talk about business, family dynamics, politics and religion. We share war stories about our career experiences and sometimes do a little bragging. And no matter what, we get a nap in every afternoon!

We both see ourselves as being among the very fortunate. My father has visits with friends and family on a daily basis. We have come to appreciate the services provided, but most importantly, the personalities of Rolla Presbyterian Manor.

My father and I are on a shared journey, and we have learned to thoroughly enjoy the ride!

At least one of my four siblings visit Dad every week.

We don’t really celebrate Father’s Day, but we all make a big effort to come and see him. The Waltons look dysfunctional compared to us. My wife, Lisa, and I have a standing invite every Monday night with her family and mine. It’s a rural thing. Her mother makes dinner and invites others. Dad remembers those trips.

PHOTOS: At the very top (left to right) are daughter Sue Bruemmer, Tom, daughter-in-law Lisa, and son-in-law Kurt Bruemmer.

In the collage at the top, the top photo shows three generations of McCarthys: Keith, Tom, grandson Patrick. The middle photo has Tom with daughters Sue and Kathy, misbehaving in a rural farm store.

Note the bottom photo in this collage. Tom's wife, Carol, taught all of the boys how to dress. Subsequently, they all showed up in the same jacket. Featured here are Tom (middle) with sons Keith (left) and Mike (right).

In the collage at the bottom, the top photo shows Tom's wife Carol (deceased), Tom, and daughter-in-law Karen. The final photo includes Tom with Tim, the oldest of the five children.

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