Husband, father avoids his dad’s path
Bill Howard and his twin sons, Michael (right) and Daniel, play a game while his wife, Fran, watches. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
This Father’s Day has a dual meaning for Bill Howard with thoughts of love but also some difficult childhood memories.
Sunday, June 17, is the 22nd wedding anniversary of Howard and his wife, Fran. It also will be a day to celebrate because Howard is the father of two 13-year-old twin boys, Michael and Daniel.
“It’s a nice day to relax,” he said about Father’s Day. “They usually barbecue for me.”
“I get some kind of outdoorsy camping item, and that’s good because we do a lot of camping,” he said.
But when he was growing up, Father’s Day was different for Howard. For a time, his mother and her parents raised him.
“My parents divorced when I was 7,” he said.
Alcoholism had taken his father out of the picture for a while, but later he was able to come to terms with the decisions his father had made.
“In my high school years, I got to know him,” he said. “Reconnecting with him, I got his views on thing, understanding that with his alcoholism, it was disease that he couldn’t control.”
During his father’s absence, he leaned on his grandfather for guidance from a man’s perspective.
Now he works hard to be a positive example to his sons.
“Him not being around from 7 to 15 years old, I wanted to make sure I was there for my boys and do whatever I needed to do to mentor them along,” said Howard, who added his father’s “being absent makes me want to be a better father.”
And he has worked hard to do that.
Howard, 46, who has lived in Elmwood Park for 16 years, is the local Scoutmaster of Troop 687 in which his two sons are members and may complete an Eagle project in the future.
He has coached baseball, soccer and hockey in which his sons have participated. While his sons have developed athletically, he’s developed the patience needed for being a good father.
“That’s what it’s about and keeping the kids straight,” he said. “I’m busy but you still have to stay involved.”
But he makes sure his sons have room to figure themselves out a bit.
“I have to let them grow and find their own way and help guide them on the path,” he said.
“He’s helped me achieve what I’ve done in Scouting,” Michael said about his father. “He helps me get along with my brother. He helps support me doing stuff and getting stuff accomplished in school and doing what I like.”
Howard believes he’s done a good job being a father so far by “sharing my life experiences with them and going through theirs with them.”
For the past few years, he’s received extra assurance his sons will turn out OK when the grass begins to grow in the spring and in the winter when the snow falls.
“My boys are really good,” he said. “They help out the neighborhood people and mow their lawns and shovel their snow, and it makes you a proud parent to see some of the things you are teaching them is sticking.”