When there are so many things to write about and so many things to reflect on, today is a day that my focus shifts. As a father and a son, Father’s Day is a day when I can do what ever I like (in theory). However, it is the day that I represent all that is important to me. Not too many fathers will admit, but the truth is that we are far more important than we are given credit for. This is not to diminish mothers or grandmothers or even grandfathers, aunts, uncles, or anyone else that helps raise up a child. But on this day we focus on the importance of fathers.
As an educator, I spend very little time discussing any of the “holidays” because of the need to focus on everything else. I don’t place a high priority on any holiday because I end up having to justify and dance around beliefs systems. Otherwise I’d try to make a way to incorporate the meaning of the holiday into a bonafide lesson. And because Father’s Day usually falls so close to the end of the school year that it gets overlooked anyway, no one complains–not even the dads. The mayor of a local town recently posted to his Facebook page that he is so proud that 15 dads came out to the “Annual Donuts with Dad Breakfast. ” This kind of puzzled me. I certainly could address that, but I’d like this story to take a different direction.
As a social worker, my focus on dads was minimal because mothers usually accepted all the responsibility in the household. For court, counseling, and intake interviews moms carry the load. Sure there’s mention of dad but there’s always a compelling reason that he could not attend. And although there’s a shared responsibility of raising a child, there are usually responsibilities that are often overlooked that dad is actually fulfilling. Dad is not there to defend himself.
As a father, I do not need to defend myself. As a son, my father’s absence had an explanation. I never questioned it. I knew and I understood. But because the moms of the world were always there to offer an explanation, the real reasons were diluted. Our world has two sides to it–the explained and the unexplained. This is a balance that is necessary to keep things in check. Although we might not be comfortable, please understand that balance is required in everything. The ying to the yang, the male to the female, the rational to the irrational, and the list goes on…
But we force an inequality. We demand more than we should and accept less than is acceptable. It’s a paradox! We overlook the need for balance. Mother Nature will find the balance though; just like Father Time will never cease (even though we don’t see him until it’s too late).
My father is no longer here. My mother is. Balance. I miss him. My mother demands that I miss her. Irony. I have to laugh to keep from crying. Today I celebrate the fathers who can no longer be there with their children. I recognize the reasons. I embrace those reasons even though I may not endorse them.
In this world full of so much tragedy, we manage to find some happiness. Balance. When the scales are tipped too much in one direction there is chaos. We’ve come to accept certain arguments and conditions. Someone might suggest that the scales need to be re-calibrated. This rings true in just about every aspect of our natural world–and probably in the supernatural realm as well. Let’s explore that for a moment.
I spoke to one of my pastors yesterday who suggested that our role in the church has become antiquated. Men don’t come out to church as often as they should because the church is perceived as effeminate. We refer to our Savior as a man who is caring and compassionate, who counsels and nurtures, who provides and heals. This sounds more like a mother than a father. I replied that “We call Him Father, but treat Him like a mother…” Make of that what you will. I’m certain that it will become a preaching point in today’s sermon.
My father was no mother. As caring and compassionate as he was, he was still assertive and stubborn in his ways. He provided resources that the family happily consumed. He provided for several families and raised more children than he conceived. He married more often than his wives would have preferred, but he was respected by each until the relationship had ended. He loved his trucks and his sailboats. He loved his projects and his books. And he loved his children. He was riddled with the guilt that he hadn’t enough love to give–even though he had given all that he had. That’s not effeminate. That’s the type of man he raised me to be. That’s the type of man that all of his son’s have turned out to be. These are traits that I am modeling for my son.
In his absence, I’ve learned the meaning of balance. I only had him as a constant in my life for 13 years. Too short? No way! That’s way longer than than I’ve been in my son’s life (so far); and way longer than most children have their fathers in their lives. I am blessed to have been conceived by him, to be supported by him, and to have him there to show his love to me. My father demonstrated balance in his life. He was a poet and a sailor. He lived his life like a well-narrated story, filled with comedy and tragedy. He rarely completed a project, and his ultimate demise mimicked his projects. This was no accident. As I said, he was a poet. Had he been a painter I’d suggest that all of his brush strokes were deliberate. Instead, I confirm that all of his “I’s” were dotted and all of his “T’s” were crossed. He left this earth of his own free will. It’s been impossible to grieve his death because I daily celebrate his life. Although I’m criticized for my perception of my father, I will learn from his model. I will live my life the way I know best and I will teach my children how to LIVE life to the fullest.
Today, I also celebrate my children. They were conceived in love and are nurtured daily by a mother and father who want nothing more than for them to be healthy and happy. Our children’s lives are not traditional. However, “traditional” is no longer the norm. Therefore, their existence is actually better than most–and certainly better than what they could have had–no father. I am the best father that my children will ever have! That’s as easy as affirming that I am the only father they will ever have. I had a step-father for a few years who once told me, “you only get one mother…” Puzzled, I asked him if the same was true for fathers. He had no answer.
Dear Dad, I love you. Knowing that I will never see you again, I am happy for those years we had together. You will live on in me as I provide for my children. And one day when I too have left this earth, my children will be great people and live happy lives.