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On Father's Day

     Father's Day has almost always been weird or even non-existent for me.  The short form of my story is I was born from a date rape encounter.  Most of my life has been without a father.  Early on, my maternal grandfather was a loving male presence in my life, but only twice a year as he and my grandmother lived way up north on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada.  He also died when I was twelve or thirteen, right when a boy truly needs some male guidance.  I had a step-father for five or six years, but he was at best friendly, and at worst abusive.  So, I've muddled through many Father's Day oblivious and yet holding a crumb of disappointment in my heart for not being able to say to anyone "Happy Father's Day, Dad."
     Two years ago I found out where my father lives in Tennessee.  I swing through a litany of Anglo-Saxonisms (which at this moment I struggle not to type them out) all the way over to prayers and offering him (mentally, anyway) forgiveness and then back again.  Along with the absent father I discovered two half-sisters who live a county away from me.  A private investigator has contacted them for me, but no Oprah moment has yet to be had.  I always envisioned a strange, but tearful introduction to them.  That's what happens on the talk shows--how many disconnected relatives refuse to meet their newly discovered relations?  That's where I am.  For whatever reason, they have yet to contact me and it's been over a year.  Caution?  I understand.  Denial or refusal?  Nope.  I don't get it.
     Back to Father's Day: Being a father myself, I usually reflect a few times a year that if I died right now, my children have had more father time than I have.  I try to do right by my children, but the triune God knows, I could do so much better.  I could be more intentional when spending time with them.  I could be more pleased with what they offer me.  On the other hand, I don't want to worship my children nor give them the sense that a scribble or a poorly constructed sentence is "wonderful" when, in reality they are capable of more.  I heard on NPR this morning about a father who read to his daughter every day straight for over 3,200 days!  I only wish I was half that consistent with my children.  I read to them--currently it's Black Ships Before Troy (a beautifully illustrated retelling of The Iliad) for the boy and By the Shores of Silver Lake for R--but not every day, not even every other day.  If my mother did one thing right for me as a child, it was encouraging me to read.  My fear is that my children will become like the majority of my students--reluctant readers.
     So Father's Day, I have a very good father-in-law, I'm a father, and yet...that &(&*%^%(& down in Tennessee still has the power to wound, simply by not putting his courage to the sticking place and admitting that I exist (I'm sure he's unaware of this power).  My point?  If you are a father, do something for your child or children.  Take an interest in them.  Show them kindness.  Model real manhood, not Madison Avenue's F'ed Up grotesquerie.  Make this Father's Day about your children.

Update 3 July: I was contacted by one of my missing sisters on Father's Day!  The future will reveal where this goes.


Nina Cornelsen said…
You could say "Happy Father's Day" to your mom. She did both jobs, and seemingly pretty well.

And to your bio-dad, I suppose you could say "Happy F-er's Day."
Scot said…
What day is "F-er's Day" anyway?
Nina Cornelsen said…
You're a teacher. You should be pretty experienced at filling in blanks. (-:

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