My father lost his own father when he was just 14. That experience left him determined to be the father he never had, a goal at which, by all accounts, he excelled.
I have a vivid memory of being in a bicycle store with my Dad somewhere in my middle school years. While waiting for my new bike to be adjusted, we got onto a conversation about babies and kids and how demanding and life changing the experience of parenthood is. After a few minutes I asked, entirely seriously, "why on earth would anyone want to have children." He looked at me and said, raising you and your brother is the singular thing I am most proud of in my whole life, and my biggest accomplishment." His answer flattened me. I was too stunned to even try to reconcile the conversation we had just had with his response, let alone to realize how blessed I was.
As a parent, I occasionally feel like the twelve year old girl I was, wondering how I got myself into all this, and then I think of my father, and what he said on that day, and even more importantly, what he did everyday of his life.