My father was a hero to both my mother and me

By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

Editor’s note. Father’s Day is not until June 17. Over the course of the next week and a half we’ll post new stories, like this one. and repost others that directly address a portion of the abortion story that is too often neglected. For many men who have been a party to an abortion, Father’s Day will be a grim reminder of obligations shirked and lives lost.

But there are other men who did the right thing, as this story illustrates beautifully.

Maria Gallagher

They were a newly-married couple facing a monumental challenge.

The husband had been laid off from his job. The wife, who had become the sole wage-earner, was pregnant. The pregnancy was unexpected—especially to her employer, who unceremoniously fired her as a result.

And yet, rather than have the pressure drive them apart, they united, for the sake not only of themselves, but for the daughter they would come to cherish.

I am that unexpected daughter, and I am profoundly grateful to my mother and father for choosing life for me.

The decision was really a no-brainer for my mother, who had longed for a family ever since illness had fractured her own when she was only eight years old. Unable to live any longer with her mother and father, she was shipped off to an elderly aunt, who decided after just one year of caregiving that raising a child at her advanced age was too much for her. As a result, my mother went to live with a friend of my grandmother’s and the friend’s daughter.

The entire experience made her want to jealously guard her young family when she herself became a mother.

My father turned out to be a hero to both my mother and me. My mother could not make it to the hospital in time when she went into labor, so my father—who had no medical experience—ended up delivering me. I literally would not be here were it not for him.

Even though post-traumatic stress from combat had made it difficult for him to work, my Daddy never shirked his responsibility as a father. When my mother returned to work, he became my caregiver—always gentle and kind, never bemoaning the fact that he had to stay at home with a baby.

Throughout my childhood, my father was an amazing cheerleader, always encouraging my younger sister and me to do our best—whether in school, on the stage, and (briefly) in a recording studio. He believed strongly in our talents and skills, and told me often that there was nothing I couldn’t do, if I put my mind to it.

When I gave a speech at graduation as class valedictorian, he was the first one in the audience to stand and applaud. It should not have come as a surprise. He had been applauding me all my life.

My father was not only kind to his daughters. He was incredibly sweet to any child he came across. My foster-cousin remarked at my father’s death that she could not imagine him ever getting angry. (For the record, he could get angry—but he never turned that anger on a child.)

It has been twelve long years since my father’s passing. I continue to miss him every day. But he left me a legacy of love—a love which began when I was still in my mother’s womb. And he served as an incredible example to his family of what devoted fatherhood is all about.

This Father’s Day, I pray that a young woman who finds herself in circumstances similar to my mother’s will find that the father of her preborn child shows her just as much love and support as my father gave my mother during that unexpected pregnancy so long ago. And I pray that I will live up to the dream my own father had for me on the day I was born.