Not everyone is blessed to be born with a good dad. And sometimes, even if we have a good dad, we might think he isn’t because he doesn’t spend enough time with us. Or maybe he can’t hold a steady job. Or he has a bad habit we don’t like. There are all sorts of reasons why we may not have a dad in our life – divorce, death, abandonment. And there are all sorts of reasons we could be at odds with our dad – too high or too low expectations, misunderstandings, falling into someone else’s story and being critical without getting to know our dad first. The reasons are endless. For those of us who have been there done that, we get it. I get it. I had a daddy who I didn’t know as well as I could have, who I knew more through others’ eyes rather my own, but who loved me despite my youth.
Growing Up With My Daddy
As I sit here with the intention to write about fathers and Father’s Day, my mind thinks back to the moments when I first remember my daddy. He was a quiet man, at least to me anyway. When he wasn’t home, I missed him terribly. I remember rocking back and forth on my feet at the front screen door and repeating over and over again, “Daddy come home, daddy come home.” My momma says it drove her crazy but didn’t stop me as she knew it was my coping mechanism. When my daddy did finally come home, I wanted to run up to him and hug him forever. But mostly, I didn’t. He was tired from work or from looking for work, and I didn’t want to add any stress to his day by selfishly demanding his attention and time. It was enough for me to just have him home again.
As I got older, I remember the times he spent caring for our property wherever it was we were living. He had a fantastic green thumb and could grow just about anything. I can still see the rose bushes he would tend where we first lived when I was really young and then later across from our grandparents (his parents). He would grow rose cuttings, as well, and cuttings of orange, grapefruit, lemon, and peach trees, to sell at the local farmer’s markets. And for many years, he was a landscaper for an RV park in a nearby town. The funny thing is, thinking about it all these years later, I believe it was the weed killer that killed him. He died in June of 1980 from black melanoma cancer. It was a hard thing to lose him at seventeen years old and a junior, almost senior, in high school. But it was even harder on my momma and my seven younger siblings.
My daddy shaped my life in many ways. Not just by the care he gave me during my first year of life, but also in the way he acted around me. I didn’t focus on all his failings but on how he treated me and what he expected from me. Sure, I got my own share of spankings from him, but it is the other things I remember most about him. He taught me how to cook breakfast – bacon and eggs, yummmm! He taught me modesty and to take pride in myself. He taught me about commitment and responsibility by sticking with us eight kids through thick and thin. And, most of all, he believed in me; and he loved me, even when I disappointed him the most.
When Choosing Hubs
The man I chose to marry reminded me so much of my daddy that I almost decided not to marry him. Both my daddy and hubs have the same first name. Both are from farming families. And both were born with blue eyes. So, I questioned whether I was just enamored by a man who reminded me of my daddy in a few ways. Finally, the things that attracted me most to hubs won out. Plus, when I first laid eyes on hubs, I had no idea he shared the same name as my daddy. I guess you could say that was a pleasant surprise.
Even though it might seem that hubs wasn’t a good father as he spent so much time on shift work, he was really a wonderful father to our young son. Despite not always being available to attend all of our son’s school events or soccer games, he taught our son the importance of holding a job and supporting his family, even when it isn’t the easiest thing to do. He also taught our son how to build things even though carpentry isn’t his best aptitude. And he joined me in trying our best to raise our son to be honest, giving, and helpful to others.
One thing I remember most when our son was young is when hubs was home to put him to bed at night. I knew it was important that they have bonding time, so I would do dishes, clean up the kitchen, or read or write, while they did their goodnight rituals. Out of curiosity one night, wondering what was taking so long, I paused by the cracked bedroom door and listened as they prayed together. To this day, my heart still overflows at this fond memory.
And Now Our Son is a Father
From that, our son has turned out to be a wonderful husband and father. Just finishing nine years of teaching at the same school where he started right out of college, he shares in a wonderful relationship with his wife and in the discipline, care, and nurturing of their two children’s development and learning. I like to think that his parenting style is a hybrid of what he learned from both his parents and from textbooks. But, ultimately, it is all him. He has a generous, kind soul; and being a teacher, he is often teaching his own children so many things I never considered teaching him about when he was a child. My heart grows a size larger whenever I see him interact with my grandchildren, whether he is teaching, correcting, playing with, or loving them.
Life Without My Daddy
There are still times when I miss my daddy. It’s been forty-two years this month since he left this earth. Like my siblings, I had imagined him being around to see his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But life has other plans sometimes. The important thing for me is to never forget the love he had for his children. He could have left us all, considering he and my momma were in an arranged marriage. After a while, a person learns you don’t have to stay married if you don’t love each other. But the one thing my daddy and momma did was love us kids enough to keep us all together. Back in the day, they had witnessed families torn apart and kids divided due to death or divorce. They didn’t want that for us. And I am forever grateful that they loved us so much to make the ultimate sacrifice of selflessness for the greater good of us as a family. Thank you, Daddy, for loving me and my siblings enough to stick with us until you no longer could.
Honoring Our Dads
On this Fathers’ Day, if your daddy is still living, I hope you take time to reach out to him. Give him a call. Send him a card. Take him to dinner. If he is no longer on this earth, say a prayer for him. Thank him for being part of your life. Try to learn more about his story, what he liked, how he thought and loved and sacrificed. Not all fathers are good. I know this. And not all good fathers are good all the time. But we all need a little “father” in our life, a good father, who loves us, who holds us close, who believes in us. I hope you have such a father, or father-figure, in your life. Someone you can look to for guidance when things seem a little off. Whether it’s God, St. Joseph, your own dad or stepdad, a long-time family member or friend who has acted as a surrogate father, it’s nice to have someone who is a pillar in times of growth, a hand up in times of need, and a shoulder in times sadness.
If your relationship with your father isn’t what it could be, consider making amends with him. Life is short. We don’t always get the time we think we’ll need to work things out. Trust me, I know. Life just goes by way too fast. Take time today to spread some extra love to the man whom we call “Dad,” “Daddy,” “Pah,” or any other endearment who fills the role of loving father in your life. And sure, Fathers’ Day is every day. But it’s nice to have one day each year so we can take time out of our busy lives to say, “Thank You for all you do for me,” “I’ve been thinking about you,” or “I miss you, Dad, and I’d like to spend some time with you.”
A Happy Fathers’ Day prayer to my daddy up in heaven who loved us kids more than we will ever realize. I love you forever!
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed what I shared. Let me know in the comments if any of it resonated with you and your father experience(s). I love knowing your stories, too. It is in connecting and sharing that we build community and promote solidarity. Much peace and love to you and yours, Virg.