father’s day will never be about me. it will always be about my dad.
after all these years…after having been a dad myself for almost 28 years…i have yet to consider this holiday as “mine”. it was always his. it always will be.
he passed away ten years ago this year. sometimes it feels like it was yesterday. most of the time, i can barely remember anything about the final year of his life. he had a pretty severe stroke and he held on for almost eleven months before it was over. just a blur…but, i remember him a lot when i go visit my friend bill in the nursing home.
i was his only kid. my mother had passed away about ten years before that, so my dad was pretty much all alone. he had a couple of friends left over from his pre-retirement days, but though he had always been a pretty friendly and likeable guy, he mostly lived a life of isolation.
he probably wouldn’t have won a lot of dad-or-the-year awards. he was a good, hard-working man… but pretty stereotypical. gruff on the outside. talked about his work…his sports teams…and not much else. got up early, worked all day, came home, watched some television after dinner, fell asleep in his chair, went to bed when my mom woke him up. same routine my whole life.
in my childhood, he had some involvement in my life…though it was limited and dictated by his commitment to work. i have some memories of playing catch. i always wished we could have done it more. he loved baseball. we took in some pro and minor league games, but not many. his job (and the exhaustion that usually accompanied it) was always first and foremost. his way of showing his love was to put a roof over our heads and food on the table for my mom and i.
eating out was very rare (money was always tight) and we had only one family vacation in my whole life. no weekend trips. no special outings. just simple routine.
he had a simple faith in god, but never really talked about it. he prayed the same prayer every time before most of our dinners around the family dining table. we attended church faithfully for most of my childhood and adolescence. he often sang in the choir…i remember he had a really good voice. he was even an elder at times.
but it was not unusual to have roast preacher, along with the roast beef for lunch after church on sundays! it may not have been healthy, but the conversation was always sincere. he was not particularly happy when he found out that i wanted to spend my life as a minister. he had some pretty vivid memories of how ministers are often treated by church leaders!
i cannot remember any significant father-son conversations. maybe that’s why deep, healthy, real conversation…the kind that sinks below the surface of work, hobbies and family means so much to me.
but i did grow up in a stable home. my father didn’t abuse alcohol. he was a two-pack-a-day smoker, but as far as i know, i don’t have any ill effects of growing up in a second-hand smoke environment. my dad loved my mom and kept his vow to stay married to her until her death separated them. for that, i will always be grateful.
look…i know i haven’t painted a really flowery picture of my dad. it hurts me as i write. i wish it were better. i know it’s why i worked so hard to try to have a different kind of relationship with my boys. nobody’s perfect. if we were, there would have been no need for god to become flesh.
but there’s more to this story. be looking on father’s day.