Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Father's Day

I started this post three years ago, and am finally finishing it now, the week of Father’s Day, three years hence.
Sunday was Father’s Day and the sermon was one of grace to me. Not sure that’s what Friar Chuck had in mind but that is what I heard. Because, we all seem to hear from our point of view and not that of the speaker, don’t ‘cha know?

From early childhood onward, the relationship with my parents was strained and confrontational, at best; which long caused me issues with the Commandment to “honor thy father and thy mother.” In the case of my mother that relationship was never healed. In the case of my father, it was, several years prior to his passing.

I had been completely estranged from the parents for many years when the wife was diagnosed with a chronic, frequently progressive, neurological condition and we truly didn’t know then what our future held. As a result of many issues, I had left “the family business”, under difficult circumstances well prior to that time; and was, in fact, somewhat in competition within a similar market. I suppose that was the final straw in my mother’s mind with regard to her feelings towards me. But that’s a story for another time, because this is about Father’s Day and my father.

Daddy was, in retrospect, a weak person led along by his wife. It was her father, my grandfather – whom I idolized and who started “the family business”. In Grandpa’s mind I was always his “heir apparent”; but then things don’t always work out as intended. Anyway, I was self employed at the time (still am today) and Daddy came into my office shortly after learning of the wife’s diagnosis to offer any help we might need. I remember clearly his comment: “We are still family and we’re here if you need us.” I’ve always believed that to be his affirmation of love and respect for myself and my family. In his waning years I saw him more frequently than before and by then he had mellowed a bit.

We all seek affirmation; myself, my father, my mother’s father and my son, one and all. I suppose there have been those few times in my life when I truly felt grace received. Once was the day when Daddy said “we are still family”. Another was after Father’s Day when I received an email from the son. We didn’t manage to make contact Sunday but his email was waiting for me Monday morning. He remembered back to a moment I’ve long forgotten, one of those “father moments”. In that same email he indicated that he’s using one of my favorite phrases as the basis for his transfer statement. “No deposit, no return.”
The relationship between fathers and sons is rather an unusual one, I have come to believe. And while it IS about love, it’s more so ultimately one of RESPECT based not on negatives but positives. Not the daily give and take but rather that of being there in “the clutch”. More one of character built and of character exhibited at those odd times least expected and most appreciated.

So, Happy Father’s Day Daddy, you taught me character and I still think well of you, even as time passes.


At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a wise and thoughtful reflection on what was a difficult relationship but I think you GAINED a gift from God about how to truly "father" your own son and how to deeply, respectfully love each other


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