So it’s mid June and Fathers Day. To all of you out there without your fathers, I’m sorry. Fathers Day is sort of hard when your father is no longer around. My father is no longer around. Wasn’t in my life for some time. And now he’s dead two years.
I guess the day marks the time we can thank our dads for being the good dads they were. But what about the lousy dads? Like mine. Narcissistic, self involved and generally only peripherally aware of us kids. I remember doing all the usual Fathers Day stuff as a kid; buying him ugly ties he never wore, gloves he didn’t need, a lighter to replace the one he already had. I don’t recall if he liked the things we kids gave him. I’m not sure how he ever felt about us kids at all. I don’t know if he loved anyone.
My dad didn’t do the things other dads did, like throw a baseball or football. He hated sports. In fact, he made it pretty clear that sports, especially professional football, was a complete waste of time. He didn’t attend school functions, like teacher conferences and parent night. I’m sure he attended some events, but I’m sure he didn’t come see me when I had a part in the annual high school musical.
I don’t remember my dad doing much of anything but work, sleep and eat. I think that’s all he thought a man needed to do; provide the money for food and shelter. On that end, Dad was efficient. He worked nights. This was a time when the night shift would get a monetary incentive. He also worked weekends and holidays. I assume he did it for the money. Although I think he liked going to work, just because he didn’t have to deal with any of us.
There was a long time I was angry with my father for not being more of the dad I felt I needed. At this point, though, I’ve forgiven him for not being perfect. In his defense, he is not alone. After doing a little digging, I have a pretty good picture of who his Dad was, and when it came to setting an example, I’d have to say grandpa was lacking. I’m sure they tried to make life easier for their kids. I mean, that’s all any of us can do: our best. When someone’s best doesn’t measure up, and then we try to idolize people after they’re dead, only serves to fuel my anger.
My dad was not an educated man. Neither was his father. I accepted my dad exactly as he was, but there came a time when I was angry that he was not the Dad I had hoped to have. He seemed weak, and opinionated. His opinion was the only one that counted–his opinion was law. Since he was never wrong, I was never right, and when I grew up, I wanted to be right all the time like dad was. It took me almost 30 years to undo the harm my father inflicted on me, to grow less opinionated, a lot less angry, and more forgiving.
I’m not laying blame at my father’s feet, but stating the facts as they exist. I don’t hate my father, or even dislike him, though he was quite dislikeable. But neither did I love him, now, or ten years ago. He was unable to ever show he cared for his family and that has been a great disappointment to me. Now that I’m in my 50s I think I understand him better than I did, but I hope I did a much better job at raising my son. I think I did, because my son still talks to me.