It is Father’s Day and, like any other special day on the calendar, we mark it with traditions and gatherings to note its significance. Unlike the “big” celebrations of Christmas or Easter, Father’s Day becomes very personal for everyone because his or her father is the man being honored. On a larger scale we should note that fathers – just like mothers – are an integral part of a child’s life, and if you have had a very good one as I had, it makes all the difference in your life .
My father died in January, and in the last six months there has been a deep and infinite sadness as I adjust to my life without him. It is not enough to just have a service and bury someone, for the closure one seeks does not start or end there. Compound that with issues of his estate, sorting through old photos and documents, and finding things from his career and even his school days. We his children are also clearing out his house of memories from our childhood, and it is stumbling upon something like a Father’s Day card I had made for him in third grade that gets the tears flowing.
I sit here dry eyed today, trying to write this article as my own four year old son plays with his toys. I am hoping he stays busy in order for me to finish, but I have already stopped several times to get him juice, get him Cheerios, find a missing toy, and change the channels from Nick to Disney Junior. While some may find this annoying, I think it is all part of the “father” role. I have already made him a nice breakfast, and later we will go to the park just as my father used to take me, and I believe Dad will be with us in spirit.
The problem of losing a father – or anyone we love – is the selfish wishing to have the person back. In the end he was wheelchair bound from a stroke he suffered six years ago, and while he never complained I knew this vibrant man wanted to be free of the confines of that chair. He enjoyed seeing his grandchildren, his children, and had many interests right up until the end. On the night before he passed away, he spent several hours on the Internet reading about investments and news stories. I am thankful that he found joy in these things up to the last waking moments in his life.
My Dad was the smartest person I have known. He knew how to do all things and do them well. Besides his time in the Army, being a NYC police officer, and running his own business, he was an accomplished carpenter, plumber, electrician, and painter. Above all, he excelled as an auto mechanic, and he could take apart a motorcycle and put it back together again without any diagrams or instructions. He also could hunt, fish, and live off the land if he had to. Dad tried to impart his wisdom and skills to me, and I took on the task of learning as much as I could in the shadow of this enormous figure who could seemingly do everything.
Of course, on this Father’s Day there is something missing without him, and that feeling of emptiness and sadness will not go away, but when I hug my children later and they give me their little presents, I will know that Dad passed the most important torch of all to me – how to be a good and loving father. All the other things I can or cannot do will not matter because the one and most important thing I am doing to the best of my ability. I know I still have a long, long way to go to be as good a father as he was, but I am working on it.
I am fortunate to have been my father’s son, and I miss him today and will miss him every day for the rest of my life. For now, I will finish this article and go over and play with my son and his Octonauts, not only because that would be what my father would have done but because I want to enjoy every minute of being the most important thing I can be on Father’s Day or any other day – Dad!