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Christian Living

Family

Father’s Day: Reflections from an Army Widow

Wesley Bauguess - Army Veteran & Author

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." Psalm 68:5 (NIV)

For the past 10 years, my daughters and I have shied away from Father's Day. Honestly, we have ignored it completely. As an Army widow and surviving family, it has just been too painful for us.

On May 14, 2007, our world flipped upside down. My husband, Major Larry Bauguess, was serving in his dream job, deployed to Afghanistan, as an operations officer in the 82nd Airborne Division. Larry was a warrior and a gentleman and, true to his roots, he was participating in a peace meeting in Pakistan. By all accounts, the historic meeting was successful. The Afghani, Pakistani and U.S. leadership had reached an agreement. The leaders from all three sides shook hands, exchanged coins, and posed for pictures.

A short while later, a uniformed Pakistani Frontier Guardsman betrayed his mission to provide security for our troops, raised his rifle and opened fire. Larry stood between the shooter and his men. On his feet, he protected them and took the brunt of the assault. In an instant, we lost our protector, our most trusted advisor, the love of our lives.

Larry was a kind and playful father. Meeting the girls on their level, he would always kneel to talk with them eye to eye. Playtime in our house included wrestling, piggyback rides, snuggling on the couch, and coloring. On deployments, Larry always packed coloring books and crayons. He tucked them in his Army gear between his uniforms and body armor. Though he was incredibly busy and in a combat zone, he would do his best to carve out time to color a page to mail back to his girls. It was his way of staying connected with us.

Larry was a wonderful father who set a beautiful example. We've missed him tremendously. For the past decade, we have turned away from Father's Day, because it only served as a harsh reminder of all we have lost.

Looking back now, I realize by ignoring Father's Day, we have neglected to thank those wonderful fathers who have come alongside us, loved, supported, and included us in their family activities. I now understand that God showed His love for us through those godly men. Incredible uncles, a loving papaw, Army leaders, and amazing pastors have blessed us in abundance.

These men have carried my girls in their arms, on their backs, and in their hearts for years. They've included them in playdates with their own kids, in neighborhood activities, and in family outings. They taught them how to fish, how to drive a golf cart, and how to follow Jesus. They have invested in their future and had a hand in shaping their character.

So, this Father's Day, we will not shy away in avoidance. Even though the pain of Larry's absence is still felt, we will embrace this day of reverence and honor the fathers in our lives.

Dads, thank you for your great examples. Thank you for your generosity with your time and talents. To the dads in my life, thank you for honoring Larry's sacrifice by helping me raise our amazing daughters. Happy Father's Day to you all!

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