It’s Father’s Day. Naturally, I’m thinking about my Dad, who was the best father in the world and who I miss every single day, but I’m also thinking about the other dads out there.
My husband ranks up there with the great dads. Whatever differences he and his daughters may have had over the years, both of them know he loves them with all his heart and would do anything for them if he’s able, and even if he can’t he still tries. He can be stern at times, but deep down he’s a softy and they both know it. I’m so grateful to have found such a good man to spend my life with and to be the father of my children.
I’m thinking of my father-in-law, who wasn’t an easy man to love, but he had his good points as we all do. He learned to be a better grandfather than he’d been a father, and in the end he apologized for his short-comings, so what more can you ask of a person than that?
I’m thinking of my maternal grandfather, who pretty much lived with us until he passed away when I was ten. I don’t have a lot of memories of interacting with him, because I was closer to my grandmother and my sister was his favorite. I remember him smoking unfiltered Pall Mall cigarettes in the red pack, and even buying them for him when I was a kid. Sadly, the most vivid memory I have of him was the day he had the multiple strokes that ended his life. I remember my mother telling me many stories about him and my mother loved him very much. Again, a man with flaws, but he was a product of his upbringing and the world was different then. I wish I’d known him better.
I’m thinking of my paternal grandfather, who died when my father was only 16 years old. I only have pictures and the many, many stories my father told me about him. My father was the youngest of 12 and perhaps because there was such a big age gap, they had a very close intellectual connection. My grandfather may not have been the dad to kick the soccer ball around, but they talked about everything and shared philosophies. He had a huge part in shaping the man my father grew to be. I wish I’d had the chance to meet him, but between my father’s stories and photographs, I feel like I almost have.
And I’m thinking about my brothers-in-law, my uncles, my cousins, and nephews—so many good dads in the family.
Dads so often go unnoticed, mothers getting the majority of credit because they carry and give birth to their children. Even my own dad used to give mothers more credit than fathers for that reason—but of course, he would. He never took credit for anything special and never appreciated how truly special he was. But a good father is a blessing. Just ask anyone who’s had one—or anyone who hasn’t.
For a long time, men were taught to hide their feelings, that to show their emotions was to be weak, and that they had to be strong for their families. But that doesn’t mean those feelings and emotions aren’t there. I often think how awful it must be to keep all that bottled up, how sad and lonely to go through the days trying to keep a brave face for the world. My father used to think he was weak because he showed his tears. He was told when his father died that “men don’t cry,” and he didn’t until he was alone back then. I told my father I thought it was a sign of strength to show you have a heart and risk being vulnerable. Strength is not being stone that can be smashed with a hammer and broken into pieces, it is being the willow, able to bend with the wind and still stand upright when the storm passes.
Being a father isn’t easy. It’s largely an “on the job training” experience, but most dads I know do their damnedest to be the best dads they can be, and we thank them for it.
Happy Father’s Day to all the Great Dads out there! Without you, we wouldn’t be here!
Know that we love you and appreciate you, even if we don’t say it enough.