By Sarah Colson
Last Sunday, families across the country spent time together celebrating all the joys that come with being or having a father. There was one Johnson Citian who was perhaps the most joyous father of all this year. Dr. Steve Marrs is a grandfather five times over, with four of his grandbabies born since January.
“It just happened,” Marrs’ daughter, Victoria Kipfer said. “We didn’t really expect any of us to get pregnant around the same time. Then my older sister got pregnant first and then my twin announced she was pregnant with twins and then two weeks later I announced I was pregnant. Within about two months we all announced we were pregnant. Dad was kind of stunned.”
“I was never meant to be a grandfather that many times,” Marrs said, laughing. “This Father’s Day, we’re just lucky that they’re all OK, that we don’t have to be in the NICU for so long, and that we’ve gone so many days without any problems.”
Marrs’ journey to grandfather-hood has not been an easy one. He’s a father to three daughters—two of them twins. One of the twins, Alli Bowling, had twins herself at just 32 weeks. Bowling also gave birth to her first daughter, Ava (3), at 28 weeks. Kipfer had a son born at just 26 weeks. The oldest daughter, Renee Paduch, fortunately had her son, Carter, without any visits to the NICU. Now, the family said, all babies are doing great.
“That’s what makes this Father’s Day special,” Marrs said, “that we’re not still in the hospital. Having all the kids, that’s just an added benefit. Having them all born at the same time, that was just crazy. It was stressful. I guess Christmas is going to be even more exciting.”
Kipfer, who works alongside her father as a dentist at Marrs Family Dentist in Piney Flats, said her father is a uniquely gifted one.
“Our dad did a lot for us,” she said. “He raised us single-handedly from when me and my twin were one and my sister was three. He’s pretty much our whole support system and everything. Working with him is pretty amazing. There’s a special bond between us because we get to spend extra time together and he gets to help teach me and to help me when I need it. It’s just pretty special.”
After the young family dealt with their mother leaving years ago, Marrs said he was pretty strict on his three girls. Discipline was key, he said, in making sure they knew they were loved and important.
“I took care of them,” Marrs said. “I would take them to daycare, go to work, pick them up. Then school started and the bus would take them to school then I’d be here when they dropped them off. I raised them by myself. I had to do most everything. They’ve done well. One’s a dentist, one’s a doctor and one of them was a news anchor.
“They even celebrate Mother’s Day with me. I taught them hard work and they were smart anyway. I was like a sergeant. They either behaved or they got in trouble. It was a lot of discipline. All through school their teachers would say they were the best behaved in school. I just didn’t allow anything wrong to happen. Wherever they went, they were hard workers and they were intelligent. I did what I had to do and life goes on. They turned out well.”
Marrs said it looks like everything will turn out well for his grandbabies, too, despite the health problems they faced early on. Ava was in the NICU for 57 days; the twins for 25 days; and Kipfer’s son, Steven, for 82 days. Steven was born at just one pound and 14 ounces.
“When the babies had problems, that was tough,” he said. “All I can think about is just that I’m happy that everyone’s ok.”
“It teaches us to trust God’s timing,” Kipfer said. “All babies are a blessing and doing great.”
As for her dad, Kipfer said she hopes he understands how much he is appreciated. He and Kipfer’s sisters were all there for her when she went into premature delivery.
“Dad is seriously the most amazing man I know,” she said. “He is an incredible father and grandfather. He has given up so much for all of us and none of us would be where we are today without him. He loves his grandbabies so much. I know everyone says that but it’s the truth.”
From the staff at the News & Neighbor, we hope everyone have a very happy Father’s Day.