The Father I Never Knew but Always Loved
There are no photographs of my father, but in my mind he stands tall, light brown and handsome. He is an image of love and authority. He died when I was still too young to remember him, but thanks to my family members, they made me aware of the lifetime gifts he left me.
We all know families in which the father’s presence hardly makes a difference. He is absent often or always; and if he ever comes, he does not connect emotionally. Eventually, it’s what the children think about him (based on what they hear family members say about him) that makes them decide whether or not they can be proud to call him father.
In my father's absence, his mother and sisters made me feel that had he lived, I would be his priority; that he and I would be fun together; that he would be proud of me. Sometimes in a crowd, I would wish that he would walk up to me, and tell me that he had never died; that the news of his death was false. That's how much I long for him.
Life, pride, family support, character qualities and faith are just some of the lifetime gifts which I acknowledge as gifts from my father.
The gift of life is the prerequisite for receiving all other gifts and it cannot happen without a father. After thanks to God, it is thanks to the mother and father whether or not they are present. My father's gift of life will inspire my gratitude for him, as long as I live.
My father died in a motor vehicle accident in his early twenties. As an adult, I was privileged to meet the pastor who presided at my father’s funeral. The pastor seemed happy to meet his friend’s baby all grown up, and at first, he told me only positive things about the deceased.
Later on, the pastor shared something negative, but by that time, my family members had already influenced my pride in having him for a father. My compassion and forgiveness overpowered any negative feeling which might have surfaced had they not already taught me to love and respect him.
Knowledge of my father's imperfection only gave me evidence of his humanity, and was not enough to erase my pride in having him as a father.
(3) Family Support
My father's siblings supplemented my mother’s efforts to take care of me. I looked forward to spending time with them. When my aunts migrated to foreign countries, I received countless packages. They sent me foreign currency all through my high school years. Their children, my cousins satisfied my need for siblings.
On her eightieth birthday, his only remaining sister invited me to cruise the Caribbean with her, her children and grandchildren. Talk about a sense of family, of love, of belonging! I always had that.
Even in my father's absence, I enjoy a sense of family, especially because I view his siblings' support as my inherited gift from him.
(4) Character Qualities
“Let me see if you’re as smart as your father,” the village postman used to tell me, and I’d have to come up with a joke. I think he laughed not because I was funny, but because he was thinking of my father.
My father left a reputation of being funny. He eluded his mother's spanking (back in the day when it was an acceptable form of discipline) by making her laugh. Still, on many occasions family members would respond to my humorous dry wit with, "Just like your father." The thought of my father being a comic, makes me think that I have the gift to be one too, when I choose.
My father had other great qualities. He cared about people. I met one of his friends who told me how kind and thoughtful he (my father) was, and his mother vouched that what his friend was true. He was spiritual, loving God, committed to church attendance and participation in church activities. He was responsible, earning his keep since his teen years, and contributing to the upkeep of his mother's household. He was friendly and outgoing, often becoming the life of the party. He was loveable.
"You remind me of your father," has always been one of my favorite compliments.
(5) Legacy of Faith
My father’s loyalty to his religious conviction is mentioned in the book written to commemorate his church’s fiftieth anniversary. He refused to work on the Bible Sabbath after he learned that God expected him to spend the day in worship. My father had made an impact on his peers and fellow workers when his faith was tested in his youth.
His loyalty to the faith he embraced is his legacy to me. He left me some direction for my spirituality. So on Father’s Day when the congregation sings:“Faith of Our Fathers living still,” I sing with pride about the faith of my father, and thank him for passing this gift to me.
My own faith in my Heavenly Father is powered by my belief that He takes care of me because, among other reasons, He compensates for the absence of my human father whom He also loved.
© 2011 Dora Weithers