What a Father Means to Me

In a post-Father’s Day reflection, a Fenwick senior remembers his late father – and thanks his big brother.

Fenwick soon-to-be senior Patrick Feldmeier wrote this essay for the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative. Patrick was honored, along with his older brother, Danny (Class of 2018), on June 6 at the Union League Club in Chicago.

By Patrick Feldmeier ’20

“One, two, three: Hi Daddy, we love you and we miss you.” (Mom always adds, ‘You’re in my heart, Sweetie.’)

Patrick (left) and Danny Feldmeier with their Dad, Bob, before his untimely death seven years ago.

These are the words my family says after grace every time we sit down for dinner. And simultaneously look at the open seat at the head of the table. Our hearts yearn for the man that God called up to Heaven seven years ago: Dad. It sends a shiver up my spine saying the word out loud, yet his presence still resonates in my family.

Every once in a while, his cologne can be smelled from his closet. His faded blue Ralph Lauren hat still hangs on the wall in my mom’s bedroom. His 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee may have finally been towed, but his K-Swiss “dad shoes” rest untouched in our mudroom. To say that Bob Feldmeier is a role model to me is an absolute understatement. Words will never express how much I miss him; how much I need him in my life; or how much I love him. Through my actions, I attempt to be like him every day.

Their father’s faded cap and “dad shoes” still can be found in the Feldmeier’s Western Springs home.

As a partner at Schiff Hardin, long hours seemed to swallow his work-week. Yet, somehow, someway, he always had time to play catch or take us to watch a White Sox game. After little-league games, my dad would take my brother and me out to “men’s dinners,” where he would teach us lessons such as, “It’s ok to admit it is cold, but it is not manly to complain about the cold.” He was also an avid Notre Dame alumnus and taught us the essence of hard work. The impression he left on me is what is most important. Through watching the way he treated my mom, my siblings and me, and kept God as a focal point in his life, I truly learned what it meant to be a father. His etiquette, manners and gentlemanliness are values I strive to model because I want my children to look up at me the way I look up to my Dad.

My father’s ultimate goal was for his family to live a life like his, which includes strong family bonds and an excellent, Catholic education. He continued to set an example of how to be a father and how to find strength through tragedy by protecting us until the very end.

Dad’s Gift of Peace

Robert Feldmeier

When he was first diagnosed with melanoma, he told my mother, “Do not tell the kids about my disease. I want to give them the gift of peace.” He truly was the perfect role model for a dad. It was more important to him to keep us happy and successful in life than for us to crumble under fear. His ultimate goal was for his family to live a life like his. Instead of succumbing to anger after his death, I honored his memory by achieving goals and setting the bar high for myself. I aspire to attend the University of Notre Dame, like him, and to provide for my family the same way that he did. His spirit lives on in my heart every day, and every day I thank God for one of the greatest gifts He has ever given me: my Dad. Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from my Dad was that a man is not solely defined by his career and accomplishments, but by his display of love to his family. Perhaps that was why he was able to stay strong during his last days, because he truly had reached his ultimate goal of success in life: to love and be loved by his family.

After my Dad passed away from melanoma, great responsibility fell on my mother’s shoulders. With three children still in grade school and one daughter in high school, my mom devoted her time to making sure we would stay on track.

Dan the Man

College sophomore Danny Feldmeier ’18 is an Evans Scholar at the University of Notre Dame.

Being the youngest, and only in fourth grade at the time, I desperately needed another father figure in my life. This was when my brother, Danny, stepped up to be the man of the house. He may only be two years older than me, but after watching the way our father raised us, Danny knew exactly how to be a father figure. He raised me to act like a man — more specifically, to act like our Dad. When Danny entered his freshman year last year at the University of Notre Dame, it was my turn to be the man of the house.

To answer the question, what does a father mean to me? A true father is one that can be depended on in times of sorrow and in times of joy. My Dad taught me everything I need to be a man and a good father in the future by the way he loved his family. Due to the lessons learned from my Dad during our time together, and my brother’s ability to fill his shoes, my Dad and brother ideally exemplify what a father means to me.

About the Author

Pat Feldmeier ’20

Patrick Feldmeier is entering his senior year at Fenwick High School, where he is an Honor Roll/National Honor Society student and president of the Class of 2020. “Feldie” also plays on the Friars’ football team (he is a tight end) and rugby team. He lives in Western Springs, IL (St. John of the Cross Parish & School) and is hoping for acceptance this coming fall into the University of Notre Dame, where his Dad went and his Evans Scholar brother, Danny ’18, will be a sophomore. Their older sisters, Kelsey ’14 and Meghan ’16, also are proud Friars. Kelsey is an alumna of ND (Class of 2018; CPA ’19), and Meghan is on pace to graduate from Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, Indiana) next spring.

5 Replies to “What a Father Means to Me”

  1. This is so beautiful Patrick. The prayer at dinner and the shoes really got me. What a nice way to keep your dad’s memory alive. I also loved your words about Dan. You have a beautiful family and your dad would be so proud.

  2. Beautifully written article. I am sure you father is extremely proud of you and your siblings. I hope that someday you have children of your own because even at your young age you know the meaning and requirements of being a good father.

  3. I never had the privilege of meeting Mr Feldmeier, but I have had the privilege of coaching his two sons. Mr Feldmeier must have been a phenomenal dad, because he raised two phenomenal young men. They are, I am certain, everything Mr Feldmeier had hoped they would be. They are a tribute to their dad every day. God bless.

  4. I just wrote the above piece. You may let anyone who asks get my email. Not a problem. Fenwick HS and the Feldmeier family are tops in m book. Fenwick is run by the Dominican order and my sister is a Dominican sister (nun) serving out of Adrian Michigan and just celebrated her 60th membership year this past month. Bob Keeley 773-255-7523

  5. Who would have thought a Fenwick guy could have such depth and passion!!? (Well, okay Pat, I am a Mount Carmel HS grad, and had to say that. Actually we share many things in common — we are both Catholic League grads from Chicago). Nice piece! Actually, this is more than a nice piece. It gives me the thought that ALL of our schools in America should require or at least strongly suggest that their students write a note like this and not just to dad, but write it also for mom. It would be a start in life toward “giving back” for all young people. No doubt your dad, who I met several times as you may well know, since your grandfather and I were in each others’ wedding parties and have known each other since about 6th grade, would be overwhelmed with happiness at your carefully thought out and written words. Everything I have heard or know about you, Pat, and your mom and three siblings is incredible. Your grandmother Arlene was a very careful, conscientious and good person too. Your written piece here is more than a model for others to try to copy, not of course in the wording but in the spirit, the caring, and the HOPE that you bring out in this wonderful written tribute both to your dad and to your living members of your family. Also, love the remembrance sharing prayer you do at meals. Incredible. Leadership by quiet example. Thanks for being the young man that you are.

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