I wish my Dad were here today for me to say “Happy Fathers Day, Dad”, but he isn’t, and he hasn’t been for the last four Father’s Days either.
We had a complicated and less-than-ideal relationship after I turned 40 or so, and I know I could have been more outgoing in keeping our relationship going, but i really believe this was due more to his personal struggles with some of his behavior and decisions over the years.
Still, whatever the truth is and whatever things we wish we could do over again, the fact is, he was alive, and now he isn’t, and you can’t pick up the phone to say “hi how are you doin” any more. You can’t go to a ballgame. You can’t complain to each other about the Bears. You can’t reminisce about things from your past. You can’t do lunch.
It’s just you and your memories and regrets, and those special moments when you realize you just did something specifically because of his influence on you and your “growth” – let’s be generous and call it “growth” – as a human being.
He wasn’t perfect, and neither am I, but even imperfect people can do some good things in the world. And the older I get, the more I appreciate what that really means.
So, to my Dad who is not here today, I still want to say “Happy Fathers Day”. Thanks for being there and doing what you knew how to do to show your love for me. Thanks for encouraging me, with words and example, to work hard and to have fun and to laugh at life and to be nice to random people and to have a working bullshit detector. Thanks for playing catch with me, even though you sprained your ankle that one time when I was 10. Thanks for having expectations and standards. Thanks for helping to pay for college, back when it was still affordable.
There’s more, I know, but as I sit here and type, on my screened-in front porch, these are the main things that come flooding back to me. Even though you’re gone now, my emotions and memories are still here, and they would like to say “Thanks, Dad. And Happy Fathers Day!”