I’m used to it now, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.
My life has taken up space vacated by him.
For the first time in my life I wake up on this day reserved for thinking of, calling, thanking and congratulating my father – and realize I’ll never have one of those days again.
Only men can be one.
Everybody needs one.
Mine died, but I still have him. Every day with a father is, for most of us, just another day with someone we take for granted. Fathers are around. Some are distant, some are close, but their distance is understood and satisfactory to both father and child.
Not for everyone of course – I am generalizing – but for most I think there is a comfort in having a father akin to having a warm coat in our closet, spare tire in our trunk and emergency number to call – someone to call on in times of trouble, or in times of triumph.
Friend, fan, father.
His DNA contributed to who I am, what I look like and to my physical being but DNA isn’t about character. It isn’t about what we accomplish or what we have, isn’t about what it looks like. Yet I am part of him …
You can be a man without a father you’ve known and without children, but I am convinced you cannot walk tall and proud without knowing a great father or without trying very hard to be one.
You can measure just about anything, can’t you?
Volume, power, weight and mass.
Velocity, viscosity and length.
So many properties, but how do you measure a man, how do you measure fathers?
Hearts that pump can be taken from a corpse, weighed and analyzed, but when they aren’t pumping they aren’t much worth measuring.
Spirit, now that’s something that defies measurement.
What would you use to measure spirit? No device I know of, yet I think you could get a good reading from a child. Ask a child, of any age, what the spirit of their father was like – and I think you’ll get an accurate reading.
Then comes this day – for walking in rain to comfort wet eyes, or disguise them. Perhaps it gets easier. This day was never a hoopla and balloons day for us. But it always started with a great phone conversation – then lunch, or dinner. A gift. And expectations that another year of living would roll along until next fathers’ day.
What do I want from my relationship with my father?
I didn’t ask for change, but change came. His failing old body gave up, gave in, gave way to death. So ended his very full and worthy life.
Human fathers, like most species, at some point make a sperm contribution. Beyond that, it is all about their choices. And about their children’s choices too. Some fathers disappear, some reappear, some get lost, some get found, some wander around a while (as do their progeny). Making general statements of what a day without a father is like, for me, is indescribable. As it is for every day out of touch with my child – too much feeling for words, too much water under too many bridges to change anything that is past.
Only the future. That is, from this moment, the only place a relationship can thrive – for fathers and children, lost and found, there is only the road ahead.
Going back? Impossible, revisiting everyone’s past failings is painful and likely fruitless. Not hard to describe, just described differently for everyone – driven by relationship we each have with our father.
I can’t imagine not having one, but many people don’t. Single moms raise kids who won’t know their dad. Most of us however have a much more full experience with fathers. I’ve often wondered what it must be like growing up without one. Not to say everyone’s experience is full, or happy, or good memory-laden.
We can only fix the future …
column written/ published from Calgary
morning walk: 10C / 49F, lightly overcast but not gloomy looking, nice breeze and Gusta wanted to run, so we ran a while – she was so full of energy due in large part I’m sure to that double-dump (which is why I always take 2 bags) and we went up some hills. My ankle/heel/foot discomfort isn’t gone, but feeling much better today. Yay!
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