It is June 18th...Father's Day. Millions of fathers will be celebrated for being "Dad." There will be picnics with ice-cream, foaming beer, and memories— of those whose children are grown and are adults now themselves.
These grown men, such as myself, will reflect on our lives.
The first Fathers Day's I remember, I went to the Five and Dime to get my father monogrammed handkerchiefs.
As I got older, I graduated to wallets, handmade moccasins, ( a kit for a few bucks), and the last real handmade gift I made was a pipe holder. I'll always have the memory of not knowing how to build something and asking my father to help. He wound up making it while I watched.
As an adult, the handmade projects stopped. Then, I took him out to lunch and spent time with him.
The last Father's Day I had with him was June 2016. He was busy in the family room on the computer. We talked for a bit, and after a while, I left to go home. I gave my mom a kiss on the forehead as usual and went to my car. I sat there. Something came over me, and I decided to go back in and see him.
I walked in the room, and he was still on the computer. I said..."Daddy" and he turned and asked me what I wanted. I asked him for a hug. It was the only hug I could ever remember during my entire life with him.
He got up and gave me a hug. I cried in his arms like a baby..a 58-year-old baby.
My father patted me on the back and said the immortal words to me I used at his funeral later that year in December..."It will be all right."
It is hard not to think of death as I turn 60 this year, considering how quickly my father was taken from me— he was killed by a drunk driver.
I will also reflect on my own sons.
As a single dad, I enjoyed the handmade gifts on both Mother’s and Fathers Day...for a few years until they got older also. I still have some of the rose petals in a box, put away.
My boys would draw me pictures when they were little. When they got older they would ask me what I wanted. I would tell them all I want is something simple— a handwritten letter, a photo, some time together. I don't need gifts or fancy lunches because I'll have memories.
I've seen my boys grow up from babies to men. I've been a part of their lives that unless I develop dementia, will always be filled with wonderful memories.
I was there for the good times and the hard times, the successes, and the break-ups when the vulnerability was at its highest.
Seeing my older boy get an award for the highest achievement in his high school for French was just one highlight of many. He shared with me that during his high school trip to France how the French would make fun of the American students in their native language. The Americans were oblivious to what was being said. But he understood since he was so proficient in it.
He now leads a department at a local university helping foreign language students get connected with attorneys who have clients that do not speak English. He has a noble goal of opening a consulting firm for sustainable management to help educate landowners.
My younger son was my mischievous one from the time he was born. One time he came home with a huge pocket full of quarters. I asked him where he got them. He told me he could feel the difference of heads and tails in a playground gambling game of "Call It." I had to advise him that he has to lose once in awhile or he would be caught in his scam.
He was a gifted baseball player who could run a quarter mile and dive through the air in center field and make the catch. Whatever position he played, he played "Pete Rose" style. I spent many days going to school to talk to teachers concerning his pranks.
He is an Air Force Veteran who served in Iraq and now going to college for his degree. I feel terrible for him hearing the stories of how crappy the VA treats him.
I am proud of both of them.
Then, there is my adopted daughter, Marlena. She was brought into my life through a relationship that didn't work, but her mom is kind enough to let me stay in Marlena's life. She suffers from a Genetic Disorder called Dup15q. A duplication of Chromosome 15 leaves her with a lifetime of challenges. (read Dup15q and Lena)
I have been blessed to see her sing at her school functions where she would rock the house or be there when she cried and needed a hug.
I also treasure hearing her voice on the phone or Skype saying, "I love you, Daddy."
What do all three have in common besides me loving them? I get handwritten letters or drawings which I post on my wall from them.
Each one is the reason I get up on my days when I am so down. Each one will have the memory of me when I am gone and have my writings which are on the internet so that they can pull them up whenever they need me.
Happy Father's Day to all those that are in their children's lives and in the lives of children that are not their own, but love them as if they are.