Today, I had a belated Father’s Day celebration with my dad. I learned this year that it actually took quite a bit of coaxing for the public to warm up to the idea of Father’s Day. It’s at a time where kids are getting out of school, graduations & vacations are being planned, and post-Mother’s Day. People do less, people spend less.
My parents separated before I formed cohesive memories, so I don’t remember seeing my father every day, although at one point, I’m sure I did. My dad had a difficult relationship with his own father, which created shadows. Even today, I see him struggle with that in his own way.
He developed a love for music and art at an early age. He became a graphic artist, and a true introvert, values his alone time. Once after describing his solution to traffic, he declared, “I have so many ideas to make the world a better place!” I once even got the pleasure of being able to see his art portfolio and hear writing he did for a college class.
When I was growing up, he used to play guitar at church. I always used to love it when he played. I got to hold a hand of a local celebrity, and as we made our way towards the exit, others would come up to thank him for his performance. Each time I’d congratulate him after we were alone, he’d always shrug it off by saying he missed some notes. Sometimes I wonder if the attention made him stop playing.
Our relationship hasn’t always been easy. The women in my family are, as a whole, pretty verbally and physically demonstrative with their love. Hugs and kisses, all around. But my dad isn’t, and it wasn’t until I grew up that I realized that many men, especially of my parents’ generation, have a hard time showing their feelings. I only saw him one day a week, and sometimes I became confused or frustrated. I know now that being apart was hard on him. I look back at the pictures and see how happy he was as a father. Some things are clearer looking back.
Dad and I are dissimilar in some basic ways, but we still have commonalities. We both enjoy art and writing. We’re both homebodies (him more than me). The last few years have brought me a little closer to my roots, and my dad used to collaborate with his cousin on a family newsletter. My mom told me when I was growing up, I would make expressions or do things that were “so my dad” that I couldn’t have possibly known or tried to imitate.
During a retreat I attended in high school friends and family were encouraged to send us supportive letters. My mom’s letter started as an apology for “not having enough time to contact everyone in the family since they would have all loved to send you letters. Not as organized as I would like.” My dad, in typical tech form, emailed the dean of students. The dean printed off the email and included it in my envelope of letters.
His letter reads *a little bit* like a recommendation letter at times. But of all the letters, his made me cry the hardest. The details are simple but sum up his love for me in ways I, as a non-parent, cannot fathom. When I returned, I told him, “I loved your letter,” and my dad blushed and said, “I didn’t know you were going to read it. You weren’t supposed to see that.”
Yeah, Dad. I love you too.
One of the articles I read said that the one things fathers want most is to spend time with their children. The author implied that it should be at any given time as opposed to a holiday obligation. We live on opposite sides of town, but I’m always pleased when I get to learn a little bit more about him. I hope to see more of him this time around.