Archive for June, 2015|Monthly archive page

My Dad

This is the first Fathers Day I can recall spending entirely alone. My dad died when I was a teenager, but I’ve had uncles, brothers or chosen father figures that I’ve shared this day with, as far as I can remember, for every year since his death. This year things just worked out differently. 

I’ve seen a lot of stories, pictures and posts on social media today about dads in general, dads of particular friends, dad ‘substitutes’ and complicated dad relationships. I’m glad that there are many of my networks of friends who have loving fathers or fond memories of loving fathers. 
Memory can be comforting and complex and tricky, all at once. Since my memories of my dad are thirty years old this year (the last of them, at least) and growing farther away as each day passes, I try to carefully examine them before relying on them, so that I don’t lie to myself. But I am confident in at least one aspect of my memories of my dad: he loved me fiercely, deeply and well and did a great job of letting me know that in a lot of different ways. 
Just like all humans, my dad was flawed. He drank too much at times, was absent from home in favor of work more often than I liked, could be embarrassing in front of my friends and on occasion made my mother cry. 
And, just like every other human I know, my dad had some wonderful qualities and amazing skills that helped shape the beautiful human that he was. He thought about the world around him and tried to make it a welcome place for everyone. He laughed freely and inclusively. He considered it an honor and pleasure to be a father and husband. He chose to teach his kids to work hard, be brave, stand up for themselves and others, to always see the best in people, to never, never give up. He loved by providing a home and environment of safety, by giving of himself and teaching all of us by his actions that anger and violence are separate choices that need not be directed at loved ones even under provocation. He lived tolerance and peace in a community where he didn’t always receive it because of his brown skin and ‘foreign’ accent. He taught me to earn and keep respect of others by respecting myself. He loved me through discipline, of himself as much as of me. He loved me by loving my mother and siblings and me more than himself. 
There are many ways to love and raise children and make a family. It’s hard to judge if any is objectively right or wrong from the outside, when the big criminal things are, thankfully, absent (abuse, neglect, etc.).  But from my perspective, looking back to that long ago childhood when seeing my dad before he went to work or on rare days off made me happier than I can describe, all I can say is I think he did a great job of loving me and being my daddy. 
Happy Fathers Day, dad. Rest in power. 
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