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Happy Father's Day 2009 - Martha Randolph Carr

This is the holiday where we celebrate the men in our lives that have guided and mentored us through all of the ups and downs life has to offer.

Some of them we actually call "Dad," but many have been good men who stepped in to fill the wingtips of an absent or lost father. They're all heroes.

Mostly it's because they keep looking for work after a year of layoffs, or getting up in the middle of the night to comfort a small, worried child or give in and read a third story even though they're bone tired.

These icons of what is really the definition of hot-ness may have a little too much belly hanging over the top of their pants, or a lot less hair on their head, but that's really not the point.

These are the men who have a way of looking at any of the women in their lives, whether it's their wife or their daughters, as if they're the luckiest man on earth. It's as if they see all the potential wrapped up inside the women that they love. The real magic is that, somehow, the women come to believe it as well.

Their sons are raised as a reflection of an integrity that's defined by what is done when no one is around to keep tabs on you. Their boys are also able to take on responsibility without appearing pushy, and can meet someone at a party without immediately calculating in their head what the connection will do for them.

Great Dads like these can be found most anywhere, such as driving a bus, teaching at the front of a class, working in a bank or running for local office. They're an integral part of the fabric of their neighborhoods and are often part of the reason the communities we live in run as well as they do.

So, here's our opportunity to let each of them know we've noticed their quiet sacrifices, but this time not with a colorful necktie. Let's try something from the heart.

Everyone's greatest wish is really to know that they're appreciated, and in a year that's had a lot of economic bumps, maybe the great male mentors in our lives need it even more.

Start with a handwritten letter -- no e-mails, texts or tweets will do -- and give him something that he can fold up and put in his wallet to read again and again. Take a couple of minutes to write down why you're grateful to have this man in your life. Be specific and get out all of those things you've been telling everyone else, but never actually got around to saying to your father or father figure.

If there's more than one person in your life who fills that role, first consider yourself blessed, and then get out more stationery.

Connect the dots for each important male role model in your life and explain how they've enriched who you've become by the steady example they keep setting. Don't be surprised if this turns out to be the best present they ever get, and if you don't suddenly see a few blessings in there for yourself.

If you're like me, and your dad is now gone but you'd like to include him, take the time to tell someone else about his exploits. Like the time my father was trying to fix one of our old cars and lost a vital part somewhere in the garage. He searched in vain for hours until my mother walked in and picked it up, asking if this was what he was looking for.

It was an amazing show of restraint that he was able to not only say, yes but thanked her as well. Now, that's a good man. Happy Father's Day everyone.

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at Martha@caglecartoons.com or visit www.martharandolphcarr.com.