This year for the first time, my children will celebrate Father’s Day without enjoying their dad’s physical presence. I know they will think of him. Sadly, I know they will cry, because the grief is still so close and so new.
Growing up, Father’s Day wasn’t joyous, although I said all the right things and shopped for gifts with siblings from carefully parsed money my Mom provided. My siblings and I were abused children before the condition really was recognized or accepted, but even with the unspeakable events of our pasts, there were bright moments along the way that made us grateful. And so we celebrated, and only now, perhaps, question the reasons.
Finally understanding all the nuances and insanities of the past, I find myself appreciating good fathers—men who don’t abuse children. Men who encourage and build rather than instruct in the fine arts of sarcasm and venom—men. I appreciate men who are real fathers.
My children are fortunate to have had a humble man with a good heart and unfailing work ethic. He wasn’t perfect—who is? But he loved his kids, Sometimes, knowing how much he did, forgiveness was easier to find, and one of the reasons we spent more than forty years together. Our constant strength was the love of and for our children.
My children are blessed even as they face their first Father’s Day alone—they will be surrounded by love. Three of the four are raising bright, caring children who adore them—which is a testament to their own ability to love. All of them will share priceless memories along with the sadness, and they will know they were much loved—and still are.
Tomorrow, to all the Dads out there—I wish you happiness, health, and a beautiful day surrounded by your children’s love. To service members and first responders who are fathers—prayers always, but especially tomorrow. Wherever you are stationed, or on duty—bask in the love and comfort your children enjoy because you are their dads, and I hope every Father’s Day finds you home.
But this year, as never before—to those of you who have lost Dads, to whom the grief may be recent or of years—I’m thinking of you. The fact that your father’s love is still with you so strongly means that you had a man who was, in fact, a real father. A good father. I ache for those of you still feeling the loss, but am glad you knew a man like your dad.
Happy Father’s Day.