I know there are those of you out there who think Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day and other so-called "holidays" are just Hallmark's way of getting us to buy those overpriced cards. It all might have started that way, but I find these kinds of "holidays" to be an opportunity to take a break from our hectic Me-Me-Me lives and do something nice for those we love.
I mean, get real. How often do you do or say something nice to your Dad just because you love him?
So there are two prongs to this day we call Father's Day. Prong one, if your Dad is still around and Prong two, if he isn't.
If your Dad is still around and you love him, then Father's Day is a day to remind yourself of that and ask yourself, "What could I do today to show him how much I love him and how grateful I am for all he has done for me?"
My Dad once told me that I could never repay him for everything he had done for me (he was right), so when he asked me to do something for him, he expected that I wouldn't forget. That I would do it. That was said to me, of course, after I had screwed up. But even though I was young, I got it. OK, Dad, sounds like a deal.
So whether or not your Dad actually said something like that to you, like my Dad did, it's really true. If you have children, you know what my Dad was talking about. If you don't have them yet, then just think about what your Dad has done for you. You can't repay him like for like, but you can certainly repay him by sharing yourself, by thanking him, by doing something special for him that he would like.
If your Dad has passed away, as mine has, then Father's Day is a day for memories. It's a day to honor him by spending some time thinking of him and all that he did for you and what you two did together.
(I'm the big one with the bonnet)!
If you will indulge me a bit, I would like to share a few anecdotes about my Dad.
I know I have written about him before ("What Makes a Great Father?"), so I hope I don't repeat myself (my kids accuse me of that all of the time), but here are some things I remember about my Dad (and I am going to apologize in advance for any sentimentality - and there will be some).
There were trips to the ice cream store and caramel apples (we actually called them taffy apples); cider and homemade donuts in the fall (my Dad made the donuts); my Dad would take me with him to the music store where we would listen to records together in those private rooms they had; when I was a teenager, he would always let me have the car to drive my friends around; and he bought me my first pair of high heels (my mother wanted to keep me about five years old for the rest of my life).
So many memories....
- "You can't afford NOT to buy it." I think I have to blame my Dad for my lack of thriftiness. He himself was a bit of a spendthrift, according to my Mom. When I would see something I liked and it was on sale, really marked down, my Dad would utter that phrase "You can't afford NOT to buy it." I think it was more him giving me permission than anything else, and he probably said that to himself, too, to justify his spending, but it felt good to have him want me to have something. Likewise, my Dad also believed that if you didn't get that thing "you couldn't live without," even if you couldn't afford it, later when you had all of the money in the world, you would never find that one thing again and it would always bother you. He was right about the former, but I think I need to work on the "can't live without it" part.
- My Dad played trumpet in a dance band for all of the years I can remember. His band was actually hired to play at MY PROM!!! I was mortified. Who wants their parent at her prom? Now this was 1966. We still wore long dresses and long gloves and our hair up (though things were starting to get psychedelic if my dress is any indication).
I wish I still had those earrings!
And my Dad bought me these matching leather shoes (because I couldn't live without them)!
This was also a time that was probably one or two years before high
schools started hiring rock bands to play at their proms. At our prom, the
band was one of those combos you would see playing down at the beach
so the old folks could show off their foxtrots. The music was pretty staid,
and we kids still waltzed around in each other's arms. I didn't like my Dad
being at my Prom, but I must say when my Dad got up
to play a solo on "Wonderland by Night," I was very proud.
- This might seem macabre, but one of my happiest memories now is when my Dad was dying. Certainly it's not a happy memory that he died nor was it happy at the time that he was dying, but what makes me happy now is that I was there in his last moments. I knew my Dad was ill, but when my mother called to say my Dad was really bad, I left my job, my husband and my young children in California to go help my mother, who was 83 and all alone with my Dad at their home in Michigan, and I planned to stay there as long as I was needed. When it became apparent that my Dad was about to leave us, but he was struggling and in pain, the hospice nurse said to me, "Sometimes the dying need permission to go." I was alone at my Dad's bedside and said to him, "Daddy, you have been a wonderful father but we will be fine. It's OK for you to go. I love you very much." And though he had been in a coma all of that time, he said, "I love you too." I went for a walk in the snow and when I came back he was gone. I had heard his last words and they were words of love. So though I am sad to have lost my Dad, I am very happy that I was there with him at the end.
So no matter how you feel about Hallmark, in this hectic and crazy world we live in, we have Father's Day as a day to remind us about our Dads. Let's do something nice for our Dads on Father's Day. If Father's Day spurs us to take pause and think of our Dads, then thank you, Hallmark. But if you really, really hate Hallmark, you don't have to buy a card. You can make one or write a heartfelt letter of appreciation.
My Dad was a wonderful father. I know I have talked about him many times on this blog, but I can't help it. He was an inspiration, and I miss him very much and wish that he was still here now, especially now that I am of a certain age. He didn't drink so we couldn't have drinks together, but I would love to probe that brain of his now. I realize that I don't really know very much about my Dad and what he thought about his life and all of that. I do know he wanted to be a cowboy, he loved guns and big American cars, he could fix just about anything, he was very understanding when I had a problem and he had a curious mind. Isn't it sad that we only really appreciate our parents once they are gone?
He was also very patriotic. The red, white and blue motif was not an accident. I think that jacket was from the Olympics and the hat?...well, like I said, he wanted to be a cowboy. The shirt and necktie? A constant. He was ever the gentleman which made it very easy to buy him Father's Day gifts. Ties, a given, and cuff links, because he always wore French cuffs.
So memories are important on Father's Day. They honor our Dads but they also bring comfort to us. I enjoy thinking about my Dad and writing about him. He deserves to be remembered.
If your Dad is still alive, Father's Day is a chance to thank your Dad, but we shouldn't just do that on Father's Day. We should be aware of our loved ones every day of the year and look for opportunities to show them we love them, especially now in light of recent events. In the blink of an eye, we could lose our loved ones, and we don't want to leave anything left unsaid.
I share all of this with you because I don't want you to have any regrets. Once they are gone, it's too late. I would give anything to see my Dad again.
Since my Dad has passed away, I will spend the day thinking of him and remembering what a great Dad he was and how much he affected my life which in turn affected the next generation.
My parents were 72 when my son was born so he didn't have the opportunity to learn any lessons directly from his Granddaddy, but I have talked about my Dad so much that I hope some of it has rubbed off.
One thing I know for sure is that my son, now the father of three, is a wonderful father. So I like to think that something must have.
So next Sunday, Father's Day, if your Dad is no longer alive, spend the day thinking about him and what he meant to you and, if your Dad is still around, call him up and tell him something that will make him happy.
Or better yet, why not just do it now?
Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
for my review of
"Love and Friendship"
The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)
and the latest on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
I Die Project."
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