Today is the day that society says we are to celebrate our fathers. Let him put his feet up, have the remote, and give him special gifts. We are to tell him how much he means to us with sentiments via Hallmark. We are supposed to take this day to appreciate his wonderful ‘dadness’.
I’ve thought before that I don’t have him to celebrate any longer. I’ve thought ‘I have nothing on this day’. I have been so wrong. Although he may not be here to hug, open a gift, hear how much I love him and enjoy this day – I still have him to celebrate.
I know I am not alone in my grief today. There are thousands upon thousands of sons and daughters without their wonderful dads. We could fill an ocean with the tears of grief we could cry on this day for want of just five more minutes with them, just to hear their voice, to see their smile.
However, today my thoughts turned to a different kind of fatherless one. The one who has never had the extraordinary love only a father can give. I am thinking of friends who never knew their fathers or the ones who did, but only from a cold, impenetrable distance. My heart aches for the one who never heard ‘I’m proud of you’ or ‘I love you’. For the one who looked out in the crowd at every school performance, every baseball game, every recital – searching for the face that promised to show, but never came. I am so sorry for the disappointment and lack of presence they must have felt.
I hope they have had the chance to meet someone like my father at some point in their life. A man who seemed to see right into their hearts and understand their hurt. I am so very thankful for the man he was. He became ‘Dad’ to more than just his own children. He played the role of father to a countless number of kids who needed him, even if just for a moment. He did it effortlessly and selflessly. He amazes me to this day, especially when I run into someone who tells me how their life was changed by knowing him.
I could wallow in this day if I chose to do so and I doubt many would begrudge me my grief. However, I don’t do wallowing very well, as my strong, steadfast role model of a father would not approve. Instead I know I can celebrate and be so grateful for how I never had to want for him while he was here. He was a consistent presence, even into my adult years, that I never had to doubt. I never had to wonder if he loved me, if he was proud of me, or if I shared in his attributes that admired most. He told me, he showed me and he lived his love everyday, even into his last moments. He gave me and my siblings everything, all of himself, and we could never repay him. If that isn’t something to celebrate, then I can’t imagine anything worth celebrating.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, stepdads, grandpas and father figures that didn’t have to be.