“The difference between a ‘man’ and a ‘father’ is that the former shares his genes, but latter gives his life.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough

It’s Father’s Day today. So a big shout out to all you dads out there putting in the work!

Marla Hoffman

Many of you will be visiting your fathers today. Some of our younger readers may be busy making construction paper cards for their dear old dads. Others are planning well-timed phone calls and FaceTime sessions.

Some may feel a little bit sullen today — those of you whose fathers have passed on may feel that grief a bit stronger. I hope memories of Father’s Days past are still strong within you.

Some of the luckier people out there are celebrating twice: for the one who gave you your eyes, and for another who helped raised you. More still, some of you may be sitting between your dads right now at the breakfast table.

For others, Father’s Day is a tough reminder that their own fathers lost the right to call themselves “dad” a long time ago.


Whatever your family situation is, our relationships with our dads can run the gamut from easy and joyful to difficult, at best.

When it comes to my life, I have had what you might call a “complicated” relationship with “dad.”

My father was one of those who left when I was very young. I know many of you can understand that sort of situation, which is all too common for too many children. It comes with very mixed emotions.

He died in 2019 after not seeing me for about 29 years. So, for obvious reasons, Father’s Day as a kid could sometimes be a hard one for me. It took many, many, MANY years for me to finally let go of my anger. It wasn’t until he died that I think I finally forgave him.

I choose to hang on to the memories of him that were in happier times. How musical and funny he was, and how proud he was to hold me on his shoulders when I was little. He was my father, for sure, he just never learned how to be my dad.

Luckily, my “father” story doesn’t end there. In fact, that part is really just a fraction of my journey with “dad.”


“Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad, and that’s why I call you dad, because you are so special to me.” — Wade Boggs

Marla Hoffman takes a snuggle moment in 1990 with her mom, Janne Dolan, and stepdad Steve Skarupa, in Roque Bluffs, Maine. Submitted photo

In 1989 my mother married my stepdad, Steve. He brought a stability to my brother’s and my life. He helped raise us in turbulent times. Patched up boo-boos and cleaned up puke. Helped me with my math homework (that alone is a miracle!). Moved me in, and years later, out of college. Moving me back home, and into apartment after apartment, home after home, through my twenties and thirties. Even let me borrow the car.

There’s no shared DNA between us, but he was the dad I needed growing up.

I won’t see him today, but he should know by now the impact he’s had on the trajectory of my life — for which I am eternally grateful.

One of the most important dads in my life is my brother, Ken. He became a father in 2011 to my niece, Aislynn. When I saw her for the first time, I actually wept — hard — with joy. At the time, I could only imagine the joy he felt holding her in his arms. I hadn’t yet become a mother, so he was the first of us to carry on our genes, the first to start prepping the next generation of our family for the world. The next year he welcomed his second daughter, Aurelie. Over the last 14 years, I have come to admire him for his strength, understanding and immense respect he has for his children. I thank him for raising my nieces to be the strong, incredible women they are becoming.

“A father’s tears and fears are unseen, his love is unexpressed, but his care and protection remains as a pillar of strength throughout our lives.” — Ama H. Vanniarachchy


My journey with “dad” hasn’t stopped there, either. In 2013 I met someone who would become perhaps the most important father figure in my life: My husband, Brent.

From the moment we met, I saw his love for his two children. He was a single dad, putting in the work everyday. I admired him immediately for his dedication to his kids. He was still learning what it meant to be called “daddy,” and earning that title with blood, sweat and tears!

Brent Cogswell and his kids, Angie and Jameson, along with his fur-kids Holly and Shiva, while camping at Coos Canyon Campground in 2019. Missing is Brent’s son Bradford.

When our son was born, I witnessed a new side of his fatherhood. To see him with my child, how in love he was and how my baby boy loved him right back was one of the greatest privileges of my life. Brent was radiant with love, and it was beautiful. I only wish I could have seen him like that when his two older children came into his life!

He is our kids’ advocate and champion; their defender at all costs; the man they can count on no matter what. He’s put so much work into being a good dad, and over time, an even better dad. He’s worked harder than his children will ever know. He considers it part of his life’s purpose.

He’s never been a perfect father (do those even exist?), but everyday he is working on getting there — and that alone is a beautiful thing. The camping trips, the fishing lessons, the tickles and the belly laughs are all part of the gig.

He’s one of the good ones.


To all the children out there who struggle on Father’s Day and who have “complicated” dad relationships: Look for all the good dads in your life. They might not be your dad; it might be a grandfather or a longtime friend or a significant other — but don’t give up on “dad.”

Celebrate and recognize all the good ones. They are out there, all around us.

To those of you who have dads of all different shapes and sizes, the ones who aren’t perfect but are perfect for you, the ones who have earned their place in “dad” hall of fame, the birth fathers and stepfathers and adopted fathers: Celebrate them. Get them the “#1 Dad” mug and the cheesy tie or the grill mitts. Today, spoil them.

They deserve our thanks for putting in the work.

Marla Hoffman is the nighttime managing editor for the Sun Journal and can be reached at mhoffman@sunjournal.com.

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