It’s fathers day! And while we know that these days are really commercially inspired, designed for us to buy more cards, make more restaurant reservations and summon up some emotions, still…we do pay attention.
But for those of us who did not have that dad who was there with us every step of the way cheering us on, this day can kind of sting. But in my wizened older ager I now know that for the most part our fathers did the best they could given how they were fathered. And some of us were not fortunate to have a father present at all. So on this day I honor all the father-less or less-fathered.
Here is to my father Joseph Robert “Bob” now long gone. When he was 13 his mother died of kidney disease and his father put he and two older sisters in an apartment so he could go on with his own life. He secretly lived with a new wife visiting his kids once a week with some groceries. Young Bob was not fathered and I wonder if his father was fathered either. With no tools, he did the best he could being my father.
And here is to my father-in-law John “Jack” who just very recently passed away. His mother was left to raise him alone when he was very, very young. In a time and place where the working class really struggled, he was shifted between households while his mother worked to support them. Jack did not have fatherhood demonstrated for him from his father so had to pull from within himself to invent his own version for his two boys.
And here is to my husband David, Jack’s son, who picked up the pieces in my life when I was left to parent two children alone. Given what he knew, experienced and observed, he did the best he could in a statistically challenging situation, parenting the wounded psyches of my children while his own felt incomplete.
There is a famous line in the bible that says that the sins of the father will be passed on to their sons. I am not one to focus on “sin” but since the bible was written in old english anyway, I have come to understand that what this really means is, what we say and do imprints those around us then perpetuates into the future. And whether it is distance, absence or presence, what we learned and what we know is what becomes comfortable and, by demonstration, gets taken up by the next generation.
So to all those who feel fatherless and who literally are, I honor you today in your life’s journey! We are all just doing the best we can.