For 30 years I’ve had a Dad to celebrate Father’s Day with . . . and now I don’t. I’ve got a husband to celebrate, and a father-in-law to celebrate, but this year MY Dad’s celebration will take place at a cemetery. And it is gut-wrenching.
All these years of being fortunate enough to have both of my parents, I never even considered the absurdity of having a Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Hell, when I became a Mom nearly five years ago, I vividly remember telling my husband that this is “finally MY day so you have to do everything while I relax in peace!” To his credit, he has treated me each and every Mother’s Day, as I’ve done in return for him on Father’s Day. However now, not having my Dad here, all I can think is how stupid it is to have one specific day each year to celebrate your Dad when all it seems to accomplish is making those who don’t have one feel like shit.
I’m not suggesting Dads shouldn’t be celebrated; quite the contrary. My Dad was THE most amazing father. He worked his ass off day in and day out for his family. He taught us what hard work entails and he instilled in us pride in showing up and getting it done. He was funny; and had the most classic Dad-jokes imaginable. He was kind and loving and made sure we knew to our core how loved we were every single day. Even during my so-called angsty teenage years, I always knew without a doubt that no matter what I did or said, my Dad (and Mom) would love me and be there for me. He was amazing at showing us what love looked like; every morning he kissed my Mom goodbye and always gave us kids a hug. When I moved out, that turned into a hug every time I visited. Every phone call, of which were daily, we always ended with “I love you.” A few days before my wedding he took me aside one evening and told me he wanted me to know how happy he was that I was getting married, but that no matter what happened I could always come home and he would be there for me without question. When I had kids he showed that exact same unconditional love to them, with the added benefit of spoiling them to death because as he said “I’m Grampa now!” My Dad lived his life with an attitude of gratitude, but I never realized it until he was gone. He never advertised it, or called it that, but every day that he woke up he was thankful. Every time someone commented on how lucky he was to have the life he did he would tell them, “I’m not lucky, I’m blessed”. Now that I think about it, he probably coined the hashtag ‘#blessed’ before there was ever the idea for a hashtag.
It’s so cliched but true; cherish what you have NOW, because it can all come crashing down around you. Never did I think I’d be gearing up for a fatherless Father’s Day. If I would have known, I would have made sure to take a picture with him for last year’s Father’s Day instead of only him and my kids. But, and this is key, that’s my only regret. I wouldn’t have changed how many times we spoke, how we ended our conversations, how he was the first one I called just to chat, how my kids requested on the regular to “call Brampa!,” how I hugged him goodbye when leaving his house days before he died; none of it.
So I guess that’s the point, really . . . CHERISH what you have when you have it and make sure there’s no regrets. Celebrate your Dad’s NOW, today, and every day. I’m not suggesting you have to get out the bells and whistles every time you visit, but take the time to make those phone calls, text him when you’re thinking of him, fill him in on your week — even the mundane things — THANK him for all he’s done for you and hug him just a second longer. Trust me on these things . . . celebrate your Dad; the fact you have a Dad who’s alive, every damn day, because I sure wish I could.
Jennifer Lima is a married, working Mom just trying to get through the day so she can watch Netflix and eat BBQ chips. She and her husband are learning to navigate the circus that comes with having 3 young kids and trying to do so with as much love, fun and sleep as possible!