The last Father’s Day gift I gave my dad was homemade brownies. He’s a man who only ever wanted “a hug” on special occasions, but I knew he was thrilled that I went through the trouble to make my famous “Double-Chocolate Double-Love Brownies.” I had to give them to him a day early because I was going to be pulling a double shift the next day. I felt bad for not being there on “the day,” but he understood.
On that Father’s Day, he came home from the hospital after recovering from divorcing his kidney. I’m sure that coming home was the best Father’s Day gift for him. Two months to the day later, my father passed away from a form of aggressive cancer that riddled his body.
That was twelve years ago.
Twelve years later, I still struggle when I think of him. The emotion comes in irrational waves that I have yet to figure out. He still comes to me in my sleep and says my name with such clarity that I awake with a start; and have caught myself, on many occasions calling out to him in response. Needless to say, sitting across from Theresa Caputo is a goal of mine—in the hopes of one day “talking” to him again. Not televised though… I know that I will totally “ugly-face” cry when the day does come. My insecure-self couldn’t handle the world seeing that.
Eighteen years ago, my daughter’s father moved back to his country. Seventeen years ago was the last time she/we ever heard from him again. Is he still alive? We think so. Does my daughter have other siblings? One that we know of, but I think there are more. Does she care? She says she doesn’t… but I beg to differ. I’m confident that there is a part of her heart that died the day he left. She always told me that I was the only dad she ever needed, but I don’t believe her. I believe that the little girl inside of her still mourns him. I am still bewildered by his choice to sever ties completely. Why couldn’t I have just married a local jerk so that she’d at least have had a chance to have that relationship?
What’s done is done. I can’t change or fix it now.
My daughter and my forever-husband got off on the wrong feet seven years ago (her: an angst-filled teen; him: a stubborn and tarnished father figure). Seven years later, they both continue to take baby steps towards a healthy relationship, but it has not been easy for either of them. Two very, very caring people, but yet, two very wounded souls. Not wounded by each other, but having been the straw to break each other’s camel’s back. Two wounded souls thrust together as a blended family, whether they liked it or not.
So what is Father’s Day to me? Aside from the obvious sadness of not having my father around, it is a day that I continually hope will be a positive one for so many fathers out there.
It is a day that I hope fathers all over the world realize that they should be the ones showering their partners and children with love. Think about it—had it not been for the wife/partner/sperm-recipient, they would not be entitled to having their own day.
I’m not being hard on dads out there because I feel robbed of the limelight; I have always given my daughter a token of my love each Mother’s Day (even before she became a mother, herself)—she is the reason I am a mother (her, and the vanishing Latino sperm donor).
I don’t know how my forever-husband truly feels about “his” day though. He has a strained relationship with his own father and, because of the damage that his children’s mother has caused from the moment they were born (cutting him down at any chance she could in their presence), he has always had a strained relationship with his children. He got a card from each of them today, but barely a word was spoken between the three at the family gathering.
Little do those kids know that they have really missed out on having one of the coolest, kindest, most talented, hottest dads around. Sorry about the “hottest” part, but he’s a total silver fox, and even teenage girls get flustered around him.
Despite all of the sadness and negative baggage the people in my life carry, was today a day filled with joy? Yes it was.
Although my daughter still struggles with expressing her daughterly love towards my husband, she does try. The card may have been a “Happy Father’s Day Grandpa” card from our granddaughter, but my daughter signed it too. And you know what? She even gave him a hug and wished him a happy day. And you know what else? She even honored him and my granddaughter’s paternal grandfather on Facebook. It was a beautiful sentiment.
So what makes a father? It is not the ability to “fertilize” green pastures; it is the skill of being a positive role model to a child.
My husband and daughter will never have the same blood coursing through their veins (not even if one needs a blood transfusion—different blood types), but, as the days have passed over these seven years, he has proven time and time again that he is the father my daughter was meant to have. The grandfather my grandchildren were meant to have.
So to all of the fathers out there, I wish you the happiest day of celebrations, filled with love, respect, beer, and seared animal flesh on the barbeque. Enjoy your day today—your day of zero responsibility—because tomorrow is a new day and I beg of you to take my challenge:
- Be the man God intended you to be
- Be the father you dreamed of having
- Be the role model to those who need a father
- Be the reason your sons are excited to become fathers too.
BE A FATHER.