This piece of writing is to try to create a kind of memorable collage of a father's journey through his own life. Not necessarily my own, but fathers all over the world.
We have all had a father, many have become father's, some will be step-fathers, and help try to raise another father's children, and some will have been let down and hurt by a father they cannot seem to forgive.
Each of our fathers were at one point sons. They learned a lot about fatherhood from the fathers who raised them. Some were raised well and some were not. Some have experienced great sorrow in their pilgrimage to fatherhood and some had no idea how incredibly important their relationship and example would mean to you.
There are fathers who in spite of their own experiences as a son, or personal hurts growing up that became the father that was the best of the best. Some of you have been gifted by great fathers who seemingly did it all right.
All of us were provided with a father that did some things right along the way, in spite of their failings. It is no easy thing to be the provider of financial, relational and spiritual resources, but for all of us, it is possible to do the best that you can. We will all let our children down in some way or another in this life....it is inevitable for fathers are as imperfect as we are.
Many boys were taught to never cry, don't share your feelings, always be strong, and never be vulnerable. That is what society and their fathers and grandfathers taught them.
Most men keep their personal pain and sorrow to themselves and have seemed distant to their children because of that choice.
There are fathers who have hurt their children deeply and in some cases intentionally. Others do not even realize that their long hours at work, on business trips, being a soldier or a farmer or a business owner have children who may have felt abandoned by them and have never shared that with their fathers. There were missed birthdays, school plays, Christmases, or times when a child needed their father to be there more than any other person in the world.
Fathers will always have regrets. If you are a father reading this remember that no one on this earth will ever be the perfect father. If you have failed your children ask their forgiveness and forgive yourself along the way.
Take a moment to thank your father for what he tried to do with what he had. That can be in person, across the miles or with a prayer that he would hear the echo of wherever he may be.
Let your father know that you have forgiven his failings or the things that have disappointed you, let you down or hurt you in life. Let it go....release him from that prison of his own guilt and free yourself from the burden of carrying the load of it.
Cherish each special memory that has made you who you are. Make a list of only the special memories that you have had with your father. If there are photos, make up a poem, a story or a card, and if you can send it today to him. If you cannot send it, save it as a cherished reminder that he gave you those memories and experiences.
Thank your father for any of the lessons that you learned that came directly from him to you. Let him know or remind yourself that life teaches us through many experiences how to be the person that we have become.
When I was four or five, I remember sitting in my bedroom shivering with fear as a horrific lightening storm raged outside my window. Daddy came home from work, came up to my room and held me and told me lightening was the banging of clouds together, no more than that, and nothing to fear. He told me God was bowling with the angels, or maybe it was the great thunderbird flapping his wings, I forget now, but from then on I was enthralled by such wild natural beauty.
The day I held a warty toad and told him it was ugly, he pointed out the beauty of its golden eyes and made me see the beauty in every one of God’s creations.There were autumn hikes, just me and my Dad. I remember forever sharing the beauty of nature and then walking into a warm home redolent with the smells of the Sunday roast dinner.I recall the day, when I was about three, when he shot “my floating rock” to save my toes ~ that “floating rock” was a rather huge hungry snapping turtle that had found its way to our watery playground.Then there was the weekend, when I was five, we went up to our forest home for the weekend which involved hiking through the forest. This was before he blasted the road into the cabin. Dad forgot to apply bug repellant on me. My mom could not send me to school for days I was so covered in bites. Oh was she ticked!Memories of running around at dusk in our garden catching bugs to feed my terrarium full of praying mantises comes to mind. What makes me smile even more was his dismay when he realized that his daughter wanted to know why half of them were decapitated one day. At 5 I was too young to know about even sex between insects!
Then I remember the father with whom, years later, I had vicious, verbally violent arguments over race and the mixing thereof. Now, no longer a complete product of the social manipulation we were being brainwashed with, I realize he had a point. Sadly he never did hold my little mixed blood babies, something I feel was his loss. We were at odds when he died suddenly but at that point it was his turn to respond to my overtures at reconciliation. We had argued over religion, his bemoaning my turning my back on his beloved Catholic Church. He never spoke to me after that although I am sure that would have passed eventually.At one point during an alternative medical therapy session, I realized that my father was just another soul going through his lives dealing with the same issues and although he was my father, the anger disappeared and compassion for him came fully into play. He was no long my rival or had that power over me ~ he was just another soul seeking salvation however he knew how.My father was a good man, a product of his generation. A good provider. A loving husband. We had two homes and my brothers and I never knew want. A man who did his best in a world that was changing too rapidly. Feminism, hippies, free love, wars, all these things were guaranteed to confuse a man of his generation and he was trying his best to hold on to the old ways that he knew were proper. Raising us to proper ideals in the rapidly changing world of the 1960’s was a challenge he never quite mastered but he did his best. I can honestly say I never ever heard him say a cuss word, unless "hell's bells" qualifies as such.It has been 27 years since his passing so suddenly in his sleep, the luck of the Irish as they put it, to go so fast. A night of dancing, a great dinner, sleep, and then off he went, never woke up in the morning. He went to greet his God in heaven, not at the usual Sunday Mass.All these years later I still miss him at times. For all our squabbles and argumentative passion, once I grew up I released the pent up anger and realized just how much I miss him. Today I would give just about anything to pick up the phone and call him to say, “Thanks for everything Dad. Happy Fathers day.”