The Stranger and His Son {A Cure for Loneliness on Father’s Day}

It’s Father’s Day.

I am not a fan, especially not this year.

Today feels lonely…and wrong.

On a day normally filled with cookouts and laughter, I find myself alone. I drove to Wheeling for Owen’s baseball game, then waved goodbye as my kiddos left with their dad.  {As it should be.}

My dad is gone; I celebrate him in my heart only.


What does one do with oneself?

I found myself entering Panera for lunch, walking just ahead of a father and his son, who looked about five.

father lead by the hand son

I held the door open, the dad thanking me.  I smiled as I listened to the boy talk to his dad, but I knew before turning that something was “wrong” with the little boy.

His speech wasn’t clear and his conversation skills didn’t match his size.  His dad continually explained to him what they were doing and why.

As we stood in line, the boy grew agitated, and I knew:  He’s autistic.  His sounds weren’t cries exactly…more high-pitched, fearful moans.

The dad spoke patiently to his son, trying to soothe him.

Just a minute. We only need a drink.  It won’t take long.

Except those in front of us were taking FOREVER. The man in front of me kept turning, looking disapprovingly at the boy.  {Evidently thinking his noises were too loud for a restaurant.}

I turned to the little boy and smiled. Knowing that a stranger talking to an autistic child can spell disaster sometimes, I kept my attention to him brief, but I wanted to let the dad know: It’s ok to have him here.

The boy met my eyes and said hi, then resumed his moans now turned squeals.  And then I met the dad’s eyes.  They said, I am sorry.  And I smiled and said….you can go ahead. 

A simple gesture, really.  We’ve all allowed someone with fewer items or restless children to go ahead of us in a line.  But, today…

This dad looked at me with grateful eyes.   He thanked me at the register then again at the drink machine. The sweet little boy stood beside me enthralled as my diet Pepsi ran from the machine into my cup.

Pop,  he said.

 Yes, pop, I replied and smiled.

And he laughed, clutching a bottle of water tightly to his chest as his dad searched for a lid.

His dad turned, thanking me again and out the door they sauntered, hand in hand.

I don’t know this dad.  I will probably never see him again.  But, I am thankful to this patient, loving father for reminding me today {in the midst of my pity party} of my heavenly Father.

The One who allows me to moan and squeal when agitated.  The One who loves me even when others are looking on with disapproval.  The One that smiles when I smile and laughs when I laugh. The One who speaks soothing words as I wait, agitated.  The One who walks hand in hand with me as I walk through each door.

If you’re alone today, I am sorry. I really am.  Whether your dad is gone or living in another place.  Whether you’re divorced or mourning your spouse’s death.

I know you feel lonely.  And in your loneliness, I pray you remember…He is there. Always.  He loves you.

{Happy Father’s Day, Dad…I look forward to the day we once again celebrate together.}

{Happy Father’s Day, Dad in Panera.  You’re doing so well!}

ms mountaineer dad


  1. Sue Adams says:

    You are such a precious, caring person. Thanks for being you. Our Father’S know we hold them in our hearts.

  2. Thank you Sarah for this touching blog. I to am lonely today my dad has been gone for 49 years and I still think of him often. My step-father has been gone 10 years and I spent a lot of fathers day with him, a very good man. Now Ralph is gone almost 2 years and I miss him every day. So the only father figure now is Michael and such a good dad he is. I called and wished him happy fathers day and he wished me one to as I was father and mother to him for many years. God Bless you Sarah and know that you are loved.

  3. Kris Raynes says:

    Beautiful story, Sarah. Yesterday in church, the message was to find glory in God during the storm. Praising God when things are great is easy; praising Him when the chips are down is a more difficult task. You always seem to embrace this concept. I hope that your faith is a comfort to you in times like these. I truly feel that your words help others through the storm, and I hope that your strong faith in God pulls you and your family through your storm. The rain never lasts forever. 🙂 God Bless You, Sarah.

  4. Dani Collins says:


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