Being a father is a great challenge. I often think that you can only give what you have been given. Through the1960s and 70s my father was at the office and when he came home he was nearly always occupied with something other than his children; the lawn, his wife, or some work brought home from the office. My father's father was nearly always gone. Growing up in the Netherlands in the 1930s grandpa was running a tulip export business which had him often away for long stretches of time in America setting up large accounts with buyers of their bulbs. Then my grandfather came down with appendicitis and died when it burst in the middle of the night in 1938. (Apparently the night was cold and rainy and the doctor didn't want to venture out and came in the morning but by then it was too late.) After that the closest thing my dad had to a father was one of the german officers that came to live in his home when Hitler took over the Netherlands in 1939. (Oddly enough this same german soldier would return 50 years later to marry my father's sister Katie. They now live in Munich.) My own father began parenthood with an empty check book-- so most of the "father checks" he tried to write in those early days bounced. I have been seeking to make this right my whole life. My son Shepherd was 7 years old when he posed for the painting Super Hero Blessing. He is now 13 and at the threshold of manhood. I could not be more proud of him. We struggle to stay connected to each other every day. He loves video games as much as I love making paintings. We are alike in as many ways as we are different, and therein lies the poetry and the struggle. I don't want to miss this chance that comes once in a life time. I am thankful for my father - in how he continues at 85 years old to make up for lost time. I am thankful for Shepherd's patience with my stumbles and fumbles. I am most thankful for my heavenly father who has his supernatural way of filling in all the missing pieces.