For the past couple of days my daughter and I have both suffered from sadness. I am slow sometimes in understanding why. For me, Father’s Day, sneaks up on me. For my daughter, she is reminded of it through school projects. We both live without fathers in our lives. Consequently, Father’s Day is not a celebration for us. It is a time of sadness, grief and sometimes anger.
I wish I could say I had a loving father. He may have loved me but he didn’t have any idea in how to express it or he was very uncomfortable in doing so. The rare moments of joy I do remember with him were when I was small, maybe only four or five years old. After that my memories fade and usually are that of a domineering man and then an absent father after my parents divorced.
For my daughter, her father was and is a man who produces children without any concern as to whether he will remain a part of their lives and if he does make the attempt then it is not as a caring and devoted father but of only the fun loving father who pops in once in a while to express his love and then disappear for an indeterminate amount of time without supporting his children in any way. His downward spiral of a few years ago ended in ensuring he had no part in their lives for 10 or 12 years by being incarcerated. And what was even worse was the actions he did which caused his imprisonment was against his oldest daughter. I thank God every day it was not against my daughter. But even before that, my daughter had decided to stop allowing him to hurt her and chose to disown him as her father. I supported her on this decision.
Making such choices are not easy. They also don’t prevent the sadness, grief, and anger when one is reminded of the failures of their father. Father’s Day instead of a celebration, becomes a reminder of those things we wish to forget.
I wish all those fathers who participate in their children’s lives, who love and support them, and cherish them, and understand what a wonderful gift they are given and how honored they are to be a father or to be able to fill the role of a father in a child’s life, I wish all of you a Happy Father’s Day.
There is one more thing I wish to say to all the men out there, whether you are fathers or not. In every child you see out in the world, whether they are your children, or someone else’s child, whether they have a father or do not have a father, all children look up to adult men. They look at you with wonderment and hope. I have seen for myself how a simple smile can light up a child’s face even if you do not know them. Keep this in mind on Father’s Day. Even if you aren’t a father, all children look up to adults and even a stranger can give a child hope where they might not have it. I see the sadness in my daughter’s eyes. I know the dreams a child can have in the absence of a father. I know how a single smile can make a child’s day or just a few moments of time spent with another friend’s father can lift a fatherless child’s spirit. Don’t underestimate your influence.