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How to be a great father | Lesson from a master

A cracked foundation eroding beneath...

My years from 5th grade to high school were hard, growing up in a period of life where my parents were both sick, hospital stays were the normal, celebrate life parties seems to happen a bit too much to celebrate remission of cancer... and understanding what a normal life is and finding the foundations of a parenting style is often far from the reality for me. Don't get me wrong at all, my parents were awesome, but through their struggles, there was only such much they could offer in the late years, and that was during a time in my life that I would now look back and remember.


The foundation is compromised

But when my life turned upside down during high school and I lost both my parents, there was no clarity to what would come next. How would the foundations of a family, the centrality of a household, and the guidance to transition from high school and beyond would look like.


Rebuilt anew

But looking back now, at a past from a long time ago... one can see how a new, and remarkable foundation was set for my life and how it helped shaped me for the better.

Enter, Gary and Peg Arkin, the new foundations.

My life changed forever, the world I knew, the home, the cooking, the bedrooms, the flow of everyday life was changing. I was in my teen years, and the natural revolt and independence was core to that change life everyone. Gary and Peg faced a teen who was not accepting tre change, and one who would add challenge to their next endeavor, which was hard enough by itself. They were moving their own family to a new house, they were coordinating memorials and taxes and money constraints, they were coordinating and change from having four kids to now nine kids at home and eight other kids who were already out in the world.

Gary and the confiding sessions

What I had in Peggy, was a mother who had some small nuance and facial expressions that reminded me of my mother (her sister). What I had in Gary was nothing like what I had gown up with. While our families were close, and Gary was always part of it, there were differences in the core of my father (the accountant) from Gary (the skilled tradesman and electrician).

It was for the next few years that Gary and I would confide in various discussions, arguments, exploration, and a journey that is hard for me to describe. We seemed to always be at some odds with each other, yet connected in a unifying way. I knew I reminded him of my father (Jim Stellpflug) and I also knew he reminded me of some of better times as a kid growing up.

Over the following years as I left for college, and then work life, and then the years leading up to the later chapter in which I would meet my wife and found my own family.... he was there. Gary provided the through-line from a chapter of my life in which I was lost, to a new one in which my family, my foundations, and my sense of how to be a great father was being reinforced.

I have not spoke about some of the countless lessons, the memories, and the little things that Gary brought to everyday life, for there are far too many to even begin. But it is the largest part that I remember, but struggle to put words to that lives on with me every day.

Gary, you helped me through one of the roughest times in my life, and form that... I am eternally thankful!



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Gary you will always be in my heart. You are a true friend, never saying cruel about anyone. You are a brother knight and a true Christian. Oh how we enjoyed the round table coffee at Green Forest discussing the world affairs. God's speed to you my friend. Until we meet again on the other side. I miss you. Rest in Peace. your friend Norb Our deepest sympathy to you Peg and family Mary and Norb Saba


What a beautiful tribute to Gary, Jamie.

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