The obvious blog subject of the day here in the U.S. of A. is Father’s Day. I have two stellar examples of fathers prominent in my thoughts and conspicuously absent in the flesh. My husband, the father of my four children, died in 2008. My father, who had 5 children, died in 2010. What they have in common is that they both felt woefully disappointed by their own fathers (at one time) and were determined to do better. I’m glad to say that my husband had the chance to improve his relationship with his dad over the years, whereas my father did not. They both had an internal sense of the kind of father they wanted to be, and were clear in their values. They were incredibly dependable, stable providers of basic things, although in slightly different mixtures. My husband was far more of a “warm fuzzy”, emotional Teddy Bear. My father provided more structure and logic. I’ve come to realize that these are not opposite qualities in parenting, they are important components. There are as many ways of concocting a life-giving balance as there are fathers.
My favorite memories of my dad contain literary and educational aspects: his voice reading aloud from story books, the ballet and opera and museum tickets he treated us to regularly, the vacations and nature walks we went on. My favorite memories of my husband as a father are visceral and physical: how he held them, laughed with them, cried with them, sang to them, praised them and worried over them. When a man is giving the best he has to his children, it’s a beautiful thing. Well worth celebrating, whatever flavor it comes in.
You gotta give Dad a tie on Father’s Day…
(Okay, photographers, clearly the slides taken by my father’s Leica in the 1970s came out better than the prints from my Canon AE-1 that I scanned into a dusty screen. My brother-in-law converted the slides to digital images somehow; I love how sharp they are!)