It seems to me that we approach Father’s Day in the wrong way. It is usually considered to be a time when we honor our fathers for their various contributions to our lives, but we ignore what fatherhood means. When we tell dad how much he means to us, I suggest, we’ve got it backwards. Let me explain how I see Father’s Day: To me this is a day when I should get to let kids, grandkids and even great-grandkids know what they mean to me. If I’m the father figure here, I should get to set the tone.
When my kids came into my life they accepted me into the household with open arms. With each there was a different set of rules, a different set of needs and a different set of expectations that had to be met. All siblings, but as unique and separate as any group could possibly be. Yet they all allowed me to pester, help, anger, guide, annoy, embarrass, protect and love them equally … but each on their own terms. And when the grandkids came along, one-by-one they asserted their wants and needs and unconditional love and seemed to know instinctively that whatever they did was OK with me. And now THEIR kids (the great-grand kids) are well on their way to wrapping me around those little fingers as the others had done before.
With each of these wonderful people there is a deep, personal relationship that is to be celebrated on Father’s Day. THAT’S the magic of the day. The individual, private history of love and admiration I feel for each of these people IS the real gift of Father’s Day. And no matter who is near and who is not, those relationships are the only thing on my mind on Father’s Day. Those relationships that have taught me the meaning of joy and hope and belonging are the ones that have been the basis of the concept of fatherhood to me. I actually learned how to be a father from my kids, grandkids and great-grandkids. And to all of them I say not only “Thank you for being a part of me”, but “Thank you for taking me into your lives.”
It seems odd to note that some of you have moved on to your own families, your own homes and oftentimes some great distance away, but the bond doesn’t seem to loosen between us. You are always still in my heart and remain as close as a phone or a visit. You are not lost to me even when I feared you would be, only sometimes it is still hard to let you know how you are missed and cared about. I hope you know this, and understand that it often goes unsaid because speaking the words can make it harder on all of us. Again, the nature of our relationships is the key. The love and closeness we feel can’t be broken because you have all become part of me and I of you. Please help me celebrate MY Father’s Day this year by letting me remind you of how very much I owe you all. And that applies no mater how far afield we go or for how long we’re apart.