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A Fatherless Fathers Day

Updated on June 27, 2011
Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom is a keen observer of life. She shares her personal experiences and opinions in helpful and often amusing ways.

Is it still Father's Day if your father is dead? What if the closest paternal surrogates -- father-in-law and favorite uncles -- are also deceased?

This will be my first year minus a real-live father figure. It's probably gonna feel weird. My first thought was to simply ignore the holiday and let it roll on by unacknowledged.

But the more I think about it, the more my stance begins to soften. Do I really want to be the Grinch Who Stole Father's Day ("I must stop June 21st from coming ...but how???).

No, of course not. I definitely want to remember my dad and father-in-law (and Uncles Kevin and Jim) on Father's Day. Just because they're no longer here doesn't mean I shouldn't honor them on this day.  It's not like there isn't a precedent for this. Christmas. Easter. Memorial Day. St. Patrick's Day.These holidays work just fine without a living honoree. Why not Fathers Day?

I'll just have to make some new Father's Day traditions. I'll make up my own version of the holiday. I'll call it "Fatherless Fathers Day." Yes. That's exactly what I'll do!

Fathers Day at the beach
Fathers Day at the beach

Building a New Father's Day Tradition

If the dads were still here, what would we do? What would they want us to do?

For several years we rented a beach house for Fathers Day weekend. Both dads loved the beach and the ocean and just getting the families together. We laughed and cooked and played board games by the fire. We listened as they regaled us with stories from their WWII adventures. Except for the stories, it would be easy to replicate the rest of the weekend.

Note to self: Call rental agency about beach house.

Both dads loved fishing. Wouldn't they be proud to know we'd spent the day out on a pier? Even if all we catch are some rays and a shark or two (per usual), it will be the first time we've dropped our lines in the water this season. Yes, that sounds like a plan.

Note to self: Go to bait store. Get fishing licenses.

Blue angels fly over Fleet Week
Blue angels fly over Fleet Week

Make Their Hobbies Yours

Hubby's dad was an avid golfer until about 5 weeks before his death. Hubby used to take him out rain or shine. Even though his eyesight was failing along with his mind, he could still sink a mean putt.

Note to self: Dust off clubs and actually take golf lessons. Hubby's dad's gone. Isn't it high time his wife took up the game?

Years ago, my dad bought a boat. One day he took my younger brother out to show him the ropes, so to speak. He showed him the rope, all right! He commanded Bro to drop the anchor (no doubt so they could fish). Not sure whose fault this was (ahem, Cap'n), but the anchor was not secured to anything! Oops!

In more recent years, Dad took us out every year during Fleet Week on the U.S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien. The weather always cooperated, providing a sunny Sunday afternoon out in San Francisco Bay. Part of the day's sentertainment was watching the Blue Angels/ aerial acrobatics. Hubby's dad being a WWII bomber pilot, watching the planes made him happy, if not quite nostalgic.

Note to self: Look into tickets for Jeremiah O'Brien and upcoming air shows at local AFBs.


Symbolic Tributes

I'm not going to torture myself by standing in the card aisle reading smarmy poems that make me cry. Both dads' deaths are way too fresh in my mind. I don't need help turning on the water works. There's no reason to be shopping for Father's Day cards this year anyway. Come to think of it, that goes for Father's Day gifts, as well...

But what if... what if I took the energy and the love and the money I would have spent on my dad and my father-in-law and gave it away? Perhaps a donation in their names. To a charity that benefits fathers. Or men in general. Or families. Or some organization they felt close to. Yes, I believe that's a definite.

Note to self: Talk to siblings about donation in Dad's memory.

Talk to Hubby about donation in his dad's memory.

Do not go anywhere near a Hallmark outlet, including the Hallmark e-cards website.

Raise a Glass, Make a Visit

For those with too much on their plates already (for example, being father/mother to their own bustling brood), I have one piece of advice: relax. Planning a Fatherless Fathers Day doesn't have to be a major undertaking. It truly is the thought that counts.

Fathers Day is typically crazy busy at the cemetary. I'm sure your dear departed dad would be thrilled to see you. But if you choose to avoid the crowds and pay your respects some other day, he'll be just as happy. I promise.

If your family has its own agenda, go with it. This is the perfect opportunity to try something new. There's no point in making a stink, or even thinking about making one.

My mom died at the end of April, 2005. Mother's Day came up suddenly and caught me mid grieving. I threw something of a hissy fit, insisting that I wanted to have my OWN Mother's Day with my OWN son. I did not want to celebrate with Hubby's mom. Why? Because she wasn't MY mother. If I couldn't have MY mother I wanted the day to be about ME as a mother. Irrational? Immature? Just a tad. But that's how I felt at the time.

Luckily I got over it by the next year. I came to my senses and stopped pouting. Pouting wouldn't bring my mom back. But doing the right thing would make her proud. I suddenly realized that my mom would be (and still is) part of everything I do. She'd want me to be kind and generous toward Hubby's mom. She'd be happy if I put flowers on her grave, but if they didn't get there till her birthday (June) she'd still be happy.

If, for whatever reason, you find it too hard to deal with Fathers Day, take heart. You are not alone. If all you can muster is a prayer and a toast, go with that. You know your dad loves you very much. Anything you do will make him smile.

Note to self: Thank God for many good years with two such wonderful men. Ask Him to keep them safe. Ask the dads to watch over the living.

Here's to you, dads, wherever you may be! Happy Fathers Day!

A beautiful tribute song from a dad to his son

Missing Your Dad on Fathers Day

Your Fathers Day Plans

Will you celebrate Fathers Day this year?

See results


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    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      I miss my father greatly.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi MCAT4. I'm sorry for the loss of your father.It's a profound loss that haunts us forever, I think. Glad that you believe your father still watches over you. He does, I know, as does mine! Happy New Year. MM

    • MCAT4 profile image

      MCAT4 7 years ago from New Zealand

      I miss my Dad terribly yet we still have to soldier on and I will knowing that he watches over his family today, tomorrow and every other day that follows. Thank you for your hub... just beautiful!

    • The Shark profile image

      The Shark 7 years ago from Hampton, NH

      Definitely, I find myself moody, maybe even irritable when we are near her birthday or date she passed away.

      We defintely move forward, and sometimes having obligations to a child helps us accomplish that. But I know in the end it that is what our loved one would want, because it is what we would have wanted for them.


    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi Shark.

      We do have quite afew similarities, my friend.

      2nd Father's Day without our WWII vet dads.

      Children whose other parent died when they were teens (my son was 17 when his dad died).

      I guess life goes on and we get used to that. Holidays are the hardest, tho..

      Blessings, MM

    • The Shark profile image

      The Shark 7 years ago from Hampton, NH

      Hey MM, father was a WWII vet as well. This was my 2nd Father's Day without him. I make sure I touch base with my mom as I know it is epecially hard for her. It's the same for Mother's day. It is very hard for my daughter, she was only 18 when my wife passed away.

      The Shark

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi Saddlerider1. It saddens me to hear about children being estranged from their parents. I simply cannot imagine living like that, but I know it is actually quite common.

      I'm glad you have at least one of your children who honors you.

      Life is short. After a parent is gone is too late to honor them. I hope your kids come to their senses. If they don't they will regret it (I've known plenty of people in that situation).


    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 8 years ago

      I get honored by one of my 4 children every year, the other 3 are estranged. I guess I will have to die to maybe get honored by them, a sad state of affairs for a many unfortunate dad's like me out there. But for all of the Dad's of this world I honor you and I am thankful that you are honored by your children. Dad's and Mom's need that honor. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute to your Dad, father in-law and uncles. I rate this UP

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hi MM, I loved reading your hub even if father's day is over, I love the creative ideas that stem from a heart that loved. It's simply beautiful and I am touched. Thanks!

    • emohealer profile image

      Sioux Ramos 9 years ago from South Carolina

      This is my 2nd year without my dad. Last year emotions were running too high. This year I was able to write a tribute which I shared and it brought me to your article. Great article, I loved it. I am now your fan and look forward to reading more.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Why thank you so much, MDawson17. I try to have a wonderful heart. I miss my dad and my father-in-law very much!

    • profile image

      mdawson17 9 years ago

      Awesome!! Awesome!!! Awesome Tribute!!!!!!!

      Mighty Mom I still say you have a wonderful heart! You have what it takes to be called a true "Good Person"!!


    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 9 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      That is a wonderful way to remember them, you have given my some ideas as we should celebrate their lives. :)

    • tony0724 profile image

      tony0724 9 years ago from san diego calif

      Thanks MM !

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hey there, Tony! So sorry to hear about the loss of your Pops. You give me hope that the pain will subside with time. It comes and goes right now. Still quite fresh. I'm glad you'll be doing something selfless for your Pop. Interestingly, "Pop" is what my Hubby called his dad!

    • tony0724 profile image

      tony0724 9 years ago from san diego calif

      Thanks for the nice read MM there are definitely some outstanding suggestions here . I lost my Pop In 03 and It may take some time , but I promise you will eventually find some Inner peace . I still think about Pops around that time and quite often still but It Is not as painful now . I will give to a charity In his name , I like that suggestion. Thanks again MM !

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi PeggyW, I feel grateful that my Dad lived to be 85 and see his children married with grandchildren. He lived a good life. I know he is happy in Heaven with my mom and his parents now.

      I am loving this idea of floating roses. Wonder if I can go into the florist and specifically ask for a "wild IRISH rose" ?? !!!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      My Dad died 29 years ago but each Father's Day I think of the wonderful person that he was and wish he could have lived longer. My husband's father died when he was an infant so he never really knew him. But he has grown up with the stories and photos...

      To everyone out there that still has a living Dad........just love them and honor them while you still are able.

      As far as floating a rose from California..............just think! All the oceans are interconnected! That is how I would look at it. One giant body of water simply named different things in different parts of the globe.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello dear friends KCC and CW. I take immense pleasure in the fact that my hub has made you both think fondly about the fathers still in your lives. How cool is that!!??

      I hope you both enjoy a very special Fathers Day this year. I know mine will be different, but I am determined to make it a good one. MM

    • countrywomen profile image

      countrywomen 9 years ago from Washington, USA

      Thanks KCC for echoing my feeling. I also sometimes feel we say all the wonderful things about people when they pass away but why not let them know when they are alive about how we feel about them?

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 9 years ago from Central Texas

      Today is my husband's father's birthday. We spent a long time on Skype with him today. I thought about this hub. You're right, Countrywomen.....this hub was a great reminder to cherish the fathers still around. Thanks MM!

    • countrywomen profile image

      countrywomen 9 years ago from Washington, USA

      No no it isn't your fault. I always miss them and as soon as I read this I called my parents and spoke to them for about an hour. My father was like is there anything you would like to tell me and I said nothing and I just want to keep talking. It is such a blessing to be able to just simply talk to my father (whom sometimes I take for granted). Thumbs up for a wonderful hub. :D

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 9 years ago from Central Texas

      I wondered if I had read GT's comment about "bbq'ing at the cemetary" correctly, but I see MM took it that way too. It's something that fascinates me. Thanks for sharing that. I wrote a hub about something similar. Some find it morbid, some are ok with it.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Oh, Hawkesdream, that is a lovely tradition! Gives me some ideas. If we were still living in NY floating a rose toward Ireland would be a great idea. But alas, living here in CA it would be a long way around the world to Ireland:-).

      Don't know why I didn't think of this, tho. Your comment about your Irish dad made me think of it. Fathers Day is on a Sunday. I will absolutely, positively have to go and light a candle at church for Jack. He'd like that. Thanks for the inspiration!

      wei65432` -- thank you for visiting, and you, too, paulkoson! MM

    • paulkoson profile image

      paulkoson 9 years ago

      A Fatherless Fathers Day

      I like your hub. I think it very good.

    • wei654231 profile image

      wei654231 9 years ago

      A Fatherless Fathers Day

      it Was very well written, I support you, welcome to my hub

    • Hawkesdream profile image

      Hawkesdream 9 years ago from Cornwall

      Every year , on Father's day I throw a rose into the sea and watch it float it's way to Ireland where he lived. I toast him with his favourite tipple and light a candle by his photo. I loved my Dad and will never allow Father's Day go by without tribute.

    • ShalinIndia profile image

      ShalinIndia 9 years ago from Gurgaon,INDIA

      Great hub made me think...thanks once again....

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Thanks, dear hubber friends. I keep promising myself I'm moving on from the whole death thing, but dammit, it's still with me. It's good to know others are in the same boat (KCC -- sorry, I did not know about your dad. My condolences). Good to know others do the same thing, trying to do the things their dads would have liked.

      GT -- the tradition of partying at the cemetary is FAB! Right now, both of our dads are still in boxes. Mine's at my bro's house and my FIL is in our bedroom, along with the folded American flag we got from the honor guard. We may just take them both back to the beach with us for the day. Morbid? Heck no! MM

      CW -- I am sorry to have caused you to feel homesick for your parents. And I hope you get to visit them, or they get to visit you, soon! MM

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 9 years ago

      That was lovely MM...fathers are such special people, aren't they?

    • profile image

      jjrubio 9 years ago

      absolutely wonderful!! I loved it. I do the same thing. I like to do things I knew my dad liked and I know he would have been there with us if he was still there. I try to have fun for him....great hub!!!

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 9 years ago

      Your dads were very blessed to have you and your husband to care so deeply for them.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 9 years ago from West Coast

      Wow what a nice way to tribute. There are so many ways to honor the fathers we have lost.

      GT - That sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate.

    • goldentoad profile image

      goldentoad 9 years ago from Free and running....

      I have gone several times with a couple of buddies to their father's grave as both are buried in the same place. The first time we went it was a bit tough for them but the second time we went, we brought some beers and after a few, we started walking around and talking to all the other families there that were bbq'n and enjoying the day. Now they see the same people every year. Its become a pleasant and respectful tradition for them. Both of their dads died the same year in our mid twenties, so they always spend it together and make an event of it and the more the merrier.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 9 years ago from St. Louis

      What a lovely tribute to your father and father-in-law and uncles. You have already given them a great father's day!

    • countrywomen profile image

      countrywomen 9 years ago from Washington, USA

      That is a nice way to remember and cherish those wonderful memories. And doing the things that they would have loved or wanted us to do seems to be the best way. I guess life is really short and all this talk of death makes me want to be more connected and closer to my parents then ever before. Now I am really missing my parents. Ok I will stop now.

    • KCC Big Country profile image

      Karen Curtis 9 years ago from Central Texas

      Wow....I knew this day was coming. This will be my first Father's Day without my dad having just lost my dad in September. I hadn't given it much thought just yet, but you have provided some wonderful suggestions. I'll be thinking of you on Father's Day as you have your first as well. Great hub!


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