A Fatherless Fathers Day
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!
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.
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.
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!