Today is Father’s Day. For some reason I woke up today in a contemplative mood with just a slight touch of the melancholy. You see, my father turned 83 twelve days ago, or at least he would have if he were he still alive. As it is, he passed away when I was twelve due to a long and very arduous battle with cancer. He was a young fifty years old when he died, despite the age that the horrible disease had visited upon his body in the waning years of his short life.
I occasionally stop and wonder what my life would have been like; indeed, what kind of man would I have become had my father lived and been there to guide me as I entered those teenage years and onward to today.
My father had been married before meeting and marrying my mother. He had a beautiful daughter, my half-sister, with his first wife. Due to silly and needless family issues, I had not seen my wonderful sister since Dad’s funeral in 1978, that is until a few years ago when I decided to find her and have her be a part of my life once again. While she has filled so many holes missing in my heart and soul, she has also recounted stories of which I was not aware about my Dad from when she was growing up. My sister is obviously a few years older than I am and was grown and married when Dad passed.
I had grown up thinking that Dad was a strong and honorable man. It seems that he was not always of such sterling character when my sister was growing up with her Mom and our Dad. I found this exceptionally hard to take initially, and was sorry and heartbroken for my sister and her less-than-ideal childhood, especially when compared to mine. I wondered how could this man whom I loved and revered, who always had such a strong sense of right and wrong and demanded that my brother and I grow and act accordingly as young boys, could have lived such a very different life such as my sister described in her life.
It occurred to me that Dad had changed, for reasons I may never really know, into the father he became for me. I do not know what moment or epiphany came to him, or if it was a gradual process over the course of years, but Dad was indeed the best father I could ever hope for as a boy. He was strict, but also kind and loving. He had tough standards and expected much out of everyone. He was absolutely a man’s man, as was common for men of his generation. He instilled in me a sense of honor and indeed was the one who insisted we go to church and learn of God, our heavenly Father, and what He would have us be.
Over the past years, I sorely wished that Dad was there so we could go on fishing trips, like he often took with my uncles and granddad. I wish he could have taught me to golf. (Dad was a scratch golfer and had two holes-in-one in his life; I assure you the talent is NOT hereditary.) I wish I could have talked to Dad when I had questions about women, and my first girlfriend. I wish Dad was around to be that strong hand that was needed as my little brother began to stray. I wish he could have been there when I got married and when we had our baby girl. I wish so many things, but then again, I look back and I am so grateful to God for the time I did have with my father.
You see, in spite of the man he may once have been, in my life he was exactly the man I needed him to be. He was that role model that every boy absolutely needs. He laid the foundation for my own sense of right and wrong, of fairness, of hard work. He showed me how a real man should act and love. He loved me, and I miss him so.