I have made one thing clear to my daughters as they have either reached adulthood, or about to, of any of the holidays of the year, Father’s Day is the most important to me. As I am sure for many, Father’s Day carries many different emotions and feelings. But I define my life, by those three letters, “D” “A” “D”. And as the subtitle of my blog states, “life as a Dad, and a survivor,” “Dad” is the first mention of my two definitions.
I have made many references to Harry Chapin’s song “Cats In The Cradle” over the years. And as the meme suggests, as the song reaches its later verses, reality sinks in. And though I would never have expected Chapin to have added an alternate final verse, as a grown son in his fifties now, I wonder what he would have wrote and sung about life in the end, without “Dad”. As happy as Father’s Day is for many of us, it is also a sad day for those of us who have lost our Fathers, some long ago, some recently.
The life between my Father and I was a complicated one, a tale of two halves, fortunately, the second half being more memorable and lasting. And as I have written recently, I am finally working through at least one of the issues from my childhood with him.
And that brings me to others who are celebrating without their “Dads” for one reason or another. There are any number of reasons a child may not have a Father figure in their life. But none will be more difficult than a child knowing that they have a Father, somewhere, and either the Father has made the choice not be in that child’s life, or, just as bad, a mother choosing to alienate her child from their father. When this happens, while the intended target is the Father, it is ALWAYS the unintended target, the child, who will pay the most for that act. EVERY TIME! This is not only an unnatural act to deny a relationship with a parent, but it is child abuse.
Being a Dad has been one the most meaningful thing in my life. Being a parent does not come with a manual, if you are lucky, you may have experiences that you have witnessed from others that may help guide you.
Just to get to the point of becoming a father was an uphill battle for me with my health issues. Having the title of “Dad” does not automatically make you a Dad. Sure there are lots of fun and laughs watching your child grow, but parenthood also comes with seeing your children experience pain and sometimes heart break. And that can be real tough.
And if that is not hard enough, throw divorce into the mix. While trying to make sure that the bonds between father and child are not stressed or fractured, additional pressures are faced. Unlike my father who made the choice to be distant in my childhood, I promised my daughters I would always be in their lives. And I have kept that promise. With the exception of two Father’s Days early on in the divorce, for reasons I will not go into presently, I have celebrated this day every year with my daughters.
But just as Chapin’s song goes, when our children grow, they have their own lives, and eventually their own children, their own Father’s Days. And that may mean, just the phone call from your daughter or son having to be good enough. The first time that happens will always be hard. But to have gotten to this point in all of your lives is a foundation that can never be taken away.
I have one more Father’s Day yet with a “child,” and then I will have two grown daughters, who will always be my daughters, but may have something going on in their lives which may not allow them to be with me on this day. But I will have Facetime to fall back on, and just to see their smile will be just as good, to bring back all the memories that they have given me over the years.
And with each year, yes, I miss my Dad. I am sure that he is watching, and happy with the young ladies my daughters are becoming. And I am sure he is happy with the Dad I am. I know I am very happy.
Happy Father’s Day to all. And for those whose Fathers are no longer with them, I hope you have fond memories to carry you through this day.