Father’s Day is this Sunday, I’m sure I’m not telling you something you don’t already know.
A few months ago Bob Delmont, one of my co-workers, lost his dad and so this will be his first Father’s Day without him. Bob said he was going to do something on Sunday to remember his dad Robert. Lots of us whose parents have died, celebrate them in unique ways on significant days when their absence is so deeply felt. Bob is going to make his dad’s favorite meatballs, he got the recipe from him the last time they were together. I always make my mom’s Thanksgiving dinner every year in November, that was the month she died.
This week I’ve spent a lot of time just thinking about my dad. This family photo doesn’t capture my whole family. It’s of my mom and dad and the first four kids they had all within their first 7 years of marriage, (of which I was the youngest). My oldest brother Doug is behind me, he must have been around ten, I was two or three, my brother Greg was four or five and my sister would have been about 8. It’s my favorite family picture.
There aren’t a lot of photos of me and my dad, just the two of us because when I was growing up he traveled a lot for his work and besides, by the time the fourth kid comes along, face it, the parents just aren’t taking as many pictures, there just isn’t time for it. But here are a couple...
Four years after I was born, my parents had another boy, his name was Paul but he died of spinal meningitis within weeks after he was brought into the world. He only got to leave the hospital and come home for a few days and all I remember of him was that we couldn’t touch him we could only look into his crib. My parents rarely spoke of their loss. My dad told me years later, after my mom died, that she had felt great guilt over losing Paul because she thought it was her fault that he died. She was not excited to be pregnant again she thought her family was complete with four kids and in some way she felt God took Paul from her because she didn’t celebrate the thought of him from the beginning.
My youngest sister was a real surprise when she came along almost 8 years later.
One thing I appreciated about my dad as the years went on was that he tried to spend more time with me as an adult. He felt bad for all the years his work took him away from our family but he never gave up on getting to know his kids, he never thought it was too late for him to make an effort to connect with us. In my early 30’s, shortly after my mom died I asked my dad (who didn’t live in the same town as I did) if we could write letters to each other. I had a lot of questions about our family. The only rule we made was that if there was something he didn’t want to talk about, he didn’t have to answer that question. I don’t think that ever happened. Over the course of a year or two we talked in letters about many things that had been a mystery to me over the years. My mother was very private and there were things that went on in our home that had always confused me. I grew closer to my dad.
He was an endearing guy, people liked him. He was funny and warm. I always think about how he’d put bows on his head whenever people in our family were opening their birthday gifts.
He had a lot of integrity, people trusted him. I was always proud to be his daughter. He was also a great dad to my husband Ed who had never been close to his own father. Sometimes what we don’t get in our immediate families, God sees fit to bring into our lives in other ways. My dad was the dad Ed had always wanted, it was sweet to watch them together.
This week I have reflected on all that I remember most clearly about my dad Al. He loved coming on my radio show, he loved German potato salad and homemade pie and he was always happy to talk about how bad his golf game was. When I was young the three “go to” Father’s Day gifts we’d most often give him were: soap on a rope, Brut aftershave and the economy “three hanky” pack, always easy on a kid’s budget. This Sunday I think I’ll bake a fruit pie and have a slice with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream in honor of him. How will you honor your dad on Father’s Day?