Father is a strong word in any language

Published 8:30 am Saturday, June 18, 2022

“Abba” is the Aramaic word for Father, “I will obey you.”  Abba conveys intimacy and obedience.  Mark14:35-36 “Going a little further, he fell to the ground and prayed that, if possible, the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.  Yet not what I will, but what you will.’”

“Father” is a strong word in any language. When the apostles asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he said, “Our Father…”

My father was a great and good man but because he was not well, wasn’t very involved in my life and died at the way too young age of 54 when I had just turned 18 – but, for those short 18 years, I respected, loved, and obeyed him. If more people obeyed their fathers or as a father, obeyed our father, God, the world would be a much better place.

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Daddy’s death came at a critical time in my development – just graduated from high school, two weeks before beginning my first year in college, already insecure, introverted, now crushed with pain, I almost flunked out those first horrible years of college, but gutted it out and graduated.  

Essential to all of this, after finally making my grades end of my sophomore year, was pledging Pi Kappa Alpha at the beginning of my junior year.  By this time, I had become tough, independent, not about to take crap from anyone; especially a fraternity active and flat out “hazing!”  But – along with my pledge brother’s, I took it, and in the process, learned discipline, brotherhood, belonging, that I was not the only one with familial and other issues, and while attending mandatory study hours, grades came up (2.0 to…2.3).  Then met that Tri Delta who I should have been with as we speak….

Immediately after thankfully graduating, Uncle Sam got me for three years in the US Army.  Arriving at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for Basic Training, stepped off the bus from St. Louis and was surrounded by DI’s (Drill Instructors) yelling loudly at us!  All of which just made me laugh, because after the tough pledge ship I had gone through, these guys were pink panty waists compared to our Pike actives and already being tough and independent, served me well then and a year later in Vietnam – July 1969 to August 1970 (whew!) where I accepted my death, gave my life to God (thy will be done Abba, Father) toughened me even more and “somewhat” prepared me for all the bloody hell flamin’ BS since….

All the “why’s” about my dad’s death were answered in time as he guided me to my life’s work:  helping others who were hurting and lost like me … with four degrees, last Ph.D., in Counseling at Ole Miss, LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) NCC (Nationally Certified Counselor) and there never was a student or situation that I hadn’t already experienced.  One day a counselee at Ole Miss said, “I bet you never heard of this.”  I leaned back in my chair, listened, actually laughed, and said, “Been there done that three times!” and his mouth dropped wide open.

Ain’t nothin’ ever easy, not supposed to be, which is how my Abba, “Father” in heaven keeps me close to him – the way I want it to be.  Attending Catholic School K-12 also prepared me for life, along with my Catholic family, hero mom, Gert who went to daily Mass as well as Sunday, very involved with our church, as I am now here in Oxford and St. John’s.

Since my father’s death, I looked for strong people to draw on their strength, character, and to know what to do – Sr. Wilma, Principal St. Henry’s, Dr. Mark Scully, President Southeast Missouri State University; Art Province, District Game Warden hometown, Robert G. Delaney “Mr. D.” dad to high school sweetheart, Lee, oldest sister, Mary Ann Hillmeyer; Larry Rost, brother-in-law, best man at my wedding; Helen Bedford, Director Art Department, SEMO; Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat (all time), Dr. Gerald Walton; Dr. Mona Castle, Dr. Jonathon Zoghby, Dr. Mark Campbell, Fr. Joe Tonos, Don “DC” Cole, Ole Miss Baseball Coach Mike Bianco, Richard Howorth, Mayor Robyn Tannehill, Eagle Editor, Don Whitten, “Mother” Joan Cleary, Bub Brannan, Ike Goss, Pangolin 4×4, would be Scottish family Sheena, Alistair, Sandy and Frazier, Snooky and Mary Lou Williams, Ole Miss everybody, staff and residents NMRC, and YOU – yes…I’m watching you….

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day and made permanent by President Richard Nixon in 1972. So, on closing, Happy Father’s Day to my father, Paul B. Stricker, hero mom, Gert, who became my dad (sent her Father’s Day cards) when he died did a swell job as mom and dad, to my sons Stephen and Scott who are now dad’s (unreal), St. John’s new “Father” Mark Shoffner, that cat, Jag, and to all you swell dads out there!  

I am far from being a swell abba father, but always, loved/love my three sons, Stephen, Scott, Shane…always…always.


Steve is an Oxford resident, worked on Campus, received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, is an LPC, NCC, and can be reached at sstricke@olemiss.edu.