Death on a Holiday
My All-Time Favorite Father's Day Books
Happy Father's Day
As a child I thought adults could do no wrong. In fact, at a car wash one day I accidently walked in front of my mother causing her to trip. Down she came, along with everything tucked under her arm. I looked on in horror as my dad helped her up- the two of them laughing over her freshly skinned knee. I, on the other hand, couldn’t even believe a grown-up could fall down!
The older I get the more clear it becomes; adults are only grown up kids in bigger, more mature bodies. Sure, decisions will almost always be more rational at thirty than they were at fifteen but the truth is, being an adult doesn’t mean making the good decisions gets any easier. Which is why today, on this Father’s Day, we are fortunate enough to give thanks to the men who sacrificed much of their fun and freedoms to bring us up in this world.
With my own family, I traveled to a spot we used to go often when my sister and I were younger. It’s a Farm right off the freeway in the middle of nowhere, where a big gorgeous building houses antiques and handcrafted goods. Rows of vendors pitch their tents alongside the scent of nearby pony-rides. Just pulling into the parking lot reminded me of my childhood, the simple joy of being young and truly carefree. Back when bringing home a banana crème pie could make my entire day.
Yet, there’s a mystical element to Father’s Day. In that someday, the very kids giving thanks will be enjoying the thanks themselves. This is a hopeful fact for those who see Father’s Day as a reminder of something no longer here. Like my own boyfriend, whose father passed away when he was only seventeen. In respect of his loss, I found myself pining the date on the calendar, but not mentioning a word about it. Sneaking off to Target to buy my own card, not wanting to burden him with any extra reminders. And I even put off telling him the plans we had with my own family until just yesterday.
But then this morning, as we sat cuddled up with our cats, I realized something. Someday my boyfriend would be a father and then father’s day would be a Holiday we celebrated, talked about, enjoyed. Not one that I jotted on the calendar and tiptoed around all of early June. It’s sort of like the theme to life- that things won’t be bad or good forever. The only constant is change. Even if this Holiday feels cold and lonely now- someday it won’t.
But as my ever-so intelligent boyfriend points out, we can still celebrate our father’s that have died. Not with gifts or pricey Papyrus cards, but with words from the heart- perhaps a moment or hour of silence, a simple thought, even a hand-written note pressed beneath ones pillow. Which got me to thinking, when we simply ignore the holiday, or brush it aside, we are only erasing passed love ones, which does nothing to help reduce scars or even honor the deceased. As humans we envy robots, those emotionless entities of stainless steel. We pop anti-depressants and take muscle relaxers in hopes of avoiding unhappy feelings. We lock up parts of our past, sealing them shut. But what happens when something slips our guard out of gear? When those locks rattle lose? Being human means having emotions, dealing with the down in preparation for the up. And who would want to give up the feelings of love or happiness? The problem is, buried feelings are not resolved and they will always resurface. Therefore, in order to know happiness we must know sadness.
When one father figure is lost, another can still be gained, in more ways than one. Any authority figure that has shown you the ropes, made you feel special, or helped you get ahead can and should be celebrated today. For father figures don’t have to share a bloodline to deserve thanks. Although my dad can and never will be Nate’s, he has known him for eight years and taken him under his wing on more than one occasion. Therefore, Nate confided in me that he was happy to celebrate my father today. It didn’t mean he was celebrating anyone in place of his own dad; but just as he’d feel if his father were still alive, he is lucky to enjoy the celebrations of more than one important male figure in his life.
Tonight, Nate met my family and I on the coast for dinner. I was standing out front of the restaurant waiting for him when I spotted him walking my way, wearing one of his adorable little goofy smiles. At that moment I realized that although we’ve got a while to wait, it sure will be fun to see our future children make Father’s Day even more special for him. And perhaps having known what a sad Father’s Day feels like, he will enjoy the best to come even more.