My dad would jump over the moon to keep me safe and encouraged. He’d do the same for my brother and five sisters. Between the seven of us, we have a ton of kids and grandkids. We’d jump over the moon for them, as well.

That awareness fosters a profound sense of security. It permeates generations of families; if you live long enough, you can see it. Even when we fail or mess up, that inherent security remains. We brush ourselves off, get back on our horse and keep moving.

Fathers lighten the load of life by telling jokes and acting goofy, especially during adversity. Years ago, I attended the wake of my friend’s father, who died suddenly. This was her kids’ introduction to losing a loved one and they looked like deer in headlights. Their dad walked behind them, whispering silly comments about their Grandpa while rubbing their shoulders.

As children often do, they took their dad’s lead and smiled at the fond memories. Although grieving the loss of his beloved father-in-law, this dad infused humor and provided a physical and emotional safety net for his kids.

Fathers know how to cut to the chase and get their message across. When our four sons were little, my dad noticed me excessively doting on them. He pulled me aside, looked me in the eyes and said, “Berni, you are raising four men, not four boys.” Heeding his wisdom has paid lifelong dividends, as our boys are now having children of their own.

Moms are amazing. In most families, they orchestrate family life and conduct the arrangements. Dads don’t often stand in the spotlight. They seem to observe the household situation and facilitate as needed. Many times, my husband, Mike, took one look at the bags under my eyes and thankfully took the baton during the movements of our family symphony.

Last month, Mike and I walked the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. Tourism and fishing are the main industries in Dingle and the people work hard. We stopped in local pubs each night for a meal and a Guinness. One evening in Cloghane, we ate at a pub called O’Connor’s that has been owned by the same family for 150 years. Mícheál, a father of three, is the owner and bartender.

A woman from Vancouver, sitting at the bar, told us that years ago she was touring Dingle and dropped into the pub for a drink. Mícheál introduced her to a man from Northern Ireland. They fell in love and married. Grinning, she added, “This has happened with other couples, as well!”

I said, “Mícheál, you are a matchmaker!”

With a twinkle and a brogue, Mícheál replied, “No. I am a facilitator.”

At the end of the night, an elderly lady entered the pub and hugged Mícheál. They began weeping and stepped outside. The woman from Vancouver saw my confusion and whispered, “Mícheál’s wife passed away four weeks ago."

It would probably be easier to jump over the moon than plug away, day after day, keeping the kids safe and encouraged while facilitating what life throws at you. My hat’s off to you guys. Happy Father’s Day!

(Mrs. Bonanno attends St. Mary’s parish in Albany. She can be reached at