Nice to see you guys. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting company, being that it’s Father’s Day and all. But I’m glad you’re here. Help yourself to some coffee pods and some almond creamer. It’s very good.
Settled in? Okay…
Like I said, I wasn’t expecting a lot of company for Father’s Day. And to be honest, it’s kind of hard. And what’s strange is that I am a dad. I have two wonderful children, and I am so proud of them. I love seeing their eyes light up whenever I come home from work. And just yesterday, I shared some bonding time with my daughter at her karate school. It was fun. Exhausting, but fun. I wished I didn’t have to work right after. Oh well.
So, back to my point…
The reason why Father’s Day is still hard for me is because of my dad. Before visiting him in 2012, I hadn’t seen or heard from my dad in a long time. Days like these, I cried because I saw friends with their dads. I felt alone. I felt unloved. I felt like someone drove a dagger in my heart so deep, I couldn’t recover. It was worse whenever I attended church services. When pastors talked about God as a father. That only fueled my anger and reopened the wound. I was mad at God, but even more at my dad because I felt like he didn’t want us anymore; didn’t want me anymore.
There were so many things I missed out on because my dad wasn’t there. And as much as my mom—bless her heart—tried to teach me and my brother, there were some things I believed dads could better explain. Like changing flat tires, shaving, tying neckties, dating. Things that I believed dads passed on to their sons. I missed out on those times. And I hated him because of it.
I tried for many years to reconnect with him. Before the 2012 visit, I tried various ways to connect with him. Calls and letters mostly. He didn’t have a computer (and probably still doesn’t.) I sent pictures to my grandmother’s house, knowing that my dad frequently came by to check up on his family. He called at least once a month. Twice, if I was lucky. Then, the calls stopped. I remember getting a letter from him. I don’t remember what he said, but I felt it wasn’t enough to erase over twenty years of frustration and animosity. Then, September 2012, I made a stop in East Saint Louis to visit some of my relatives, including my dad. I wanted them to meet my wife and daughter in person. There were opportunities to confront my dad about feeling abandoned, but I chickened out. I didn’t want my visit to be spoiled by one moment of anger. I regret that decision.
I haven’t heard much from him, if at all. I tried everything I could to find a way to communicate with him. I asked anyone remotely related to him. I kept hitting dead ends. This “obsession” affected my own life, my own family. Until one day, I came to the realization that I couldn’t make this better. I couldn’t form a relationship with someone who didn’t want one; who wasn’t willing to do whatever it took to make a relationship happen. That day, I cried like I had never cried before. The dagger became a double-edged sword, driving through what place in my heart I reserved for my father. It was that moment where I decided that I was going to be the father I wished I had. I was going to treat my children better than my dad treated me.
Being a dad is hard. Maybe not as hard as being a mom, but it’s not to be taken lightly. There are so many children growing up without a strong father figure in their lives. Fathers to teach them what it means to be honest, trustworthy, persevering, respectable, upstanding, empathetic, caring. Basically, everything that is the opposite of media-driven “fatherhood.” Everything that society mocks and deems as “weak.” For a long time, I bought into those lies, and it nearly cost me the people who love me most. Those who say I am a good father.
Father’s Day is not as hard since I have kids of my own and vow to be there for them every day. But the scar is still there. In time, it will heal. In time, I will forgive my dad for all the wrong he’s done. I don’t know how he is or where he is. And perhaps, it’s not my place. But wherever he is, I hope he’s well.
So if you’re here visiting me, and you have a dad out there, take a moment or two to let him know how much he’s loved and how much you care. If there’s any issues, don’t shy away from them. Make the decision to resolve them.
And to those who are dads, know that your family loves you and believes in you.
Until next time…