A brief thought about Fathers’ Day
Posted by Euroranger on June 21, 2010
I won’t belabor this because, well, I can tend to run on at the yap about such things when all I mean to do sometimes is say what I wanted to say and then go back to work (which is what I should normally be doing whenever I find myself writing blog posts).
I frequent the forums on a popular news aggregator site and they had a forum topic yesterday about “what would you say to your Dad today”. The topic was the most popular and received hundreds of posts…a very fair chunk of them were people expressing hate, rage and other such wishes for a slow lingering death on their fathers. I didn’t have the time or the emotional fortitude to cull through them all (and they weren’t the majority…just a sizable minority) but I was left with the notion that I have one more thing to be thankful for in life.
Without further comment, I left the following post:
I read threads like this, see the hate, the blame and the apparent unremitting anger of people who seem to have had it worse than me growing up and see their father as a negative sore or hole in their lives
I read threads like this, see the love, the mourning (if dad has passed), the respect and the gratitude of people who seem to have had a similar upbringing to me and who see their father as the positive all dads wish/hope they’ll be to their kids.
And then I look at my kids and hope that the end effect of my relations with them and my presence in their lives is more like the second example than the first. And then I worry that while I’m definitely better than the first group’s example I’m perhaps not all that with the second group’s example of what dad is.
Girls then women dream all their lives about their wedding day, being a mother and such while boys then men typically have very few dreams about marriage and kids. We dream about being an astronaut or a firefighter or something else cool and so, when marriage and then children find us, we don’t have a lifetime of imagined preparation to fall back on. We go one day from “man” to “daddy” and it’s an enormous difference.
Some of us run and hide and deny our new responsibilities and in utter ignorance push away the greatest gift a man can have bestowed on him. Others embrace the new role, do their best and are the ones that most of the rest of us who fall somewhere between the two look to as the example of “how to do it right/better”.
I’m fortunate in that my dad is still here. He got cancer 7-8 years back and it’s in remission but he’s also 71 this summer and I know, deep down, I likely have a limited supply of Father’s Days left with him. As a man who doesn’t do deep, mushy emotions this is a hard point to ponder. To my dad, I’d like to have said this:
“Thanks for sticking it out for all the hard years. Only now do I get all the wisdom that you tried for so long to get through my skull that I ignored and had to acquire the hard way. Thank you for instilling in me self pride, a work ethic, and setting the example for how to be married to someone who goes crazy once per month. Thanks for illustrating how to act with in-laws who don’t respect you. Thank you for making all the sacrifices you did to make sure Bryn and I had a decent shot at life. I can’t imagine the darkest days you walked when Bryn passed on. I can’t begin to even want to imagine what it’s like burying your youngest child. I can’t believe you had the strength to even get up the next day because I know for certain that I wouldn’t have it in me.
Thank you for taking care of Mom now that she’s getting old and both your lives are winding down. Thanks for being “grandpa” to Abby and Garrett and for being the step-grandfather you have been to Kenny. I know he was especially hard but I wanted to say that he’s finally gotten a good look at his own father and this year on Father’s Day he called me and, for the first time in 13 years, called me “dad” and I don’t think I could have had that experience without the example you’ve set for me all my life.”
Instead, I called him midway through the day yesterday and wished him a happy Fathers’ Day. We talked for a few minutes about trivial nonsense and then the call was over and he went back to watching the race on TV and I went back to smoking pork ribs for supper.
My name is Euroranger, and I heartily approved this message.