What is a Father?
Stumbling, bumbling fool.
Excellent lover, insensitive and uncaring spouse.
The protector, the builder, the fixer and the destroyer of dreams.
Not worth remembering and yet, someone's entire world.
I could have written some lovely piece laced with warm memories and powerful images of all a father should be.
I could have made you cry by telling you about the empty place at my dinner table that still rips my heart every holiday.
I decided instead to tell you how difficult it is to be a father, or simply a man in this world.
I don't need to hear from anyone about how strong and important women are. I bow to each and everyone of you, so hold your emails.
It's Father's Day...This is about guys.
When my dad was alive I always remember how much I hated buying a father's day card. They spoke of fishing, hunting, sports, father always knowing the right thing to say to comfort a child. They mention dedication to faith and family and the strength it took to stand tall in face of adversity.
I would choose a "Hope you have a great day" card and sign it with love.
He wasn't a bad father. I loved him deeply.
If you've been with me for more than a year you will know that every father's day since 1998 I sing "Danny Boy" to my dad at his grave.
So, why couldn't I find a card?
Dad wasn't the warm fuzzy type. We went fishing once, maybe twice, never hunted, or played sports, he had a temper and I had the sore rear end to prove it. He went to church once in awhile, believed in God, but shoved it all down my throat with a vengeance. "Do as I say, not as I do."
He wasn't a drinker or smoker.
He worked hard, very hard, like my brother, his entire life to give family all they needed.
He adored my mom. Sang to her. Danced with her. Said "I love you."
But he couldn't say "I love you" to his sons without mumbling it. If he did, it was because something was wrong, someone died and he suddenly realized how delicate life was.
The point is, being a father isn't easy. Oh, you can certainly get someone pregnant, but that doesn't make you a dad. Being a dad is the part that's difficult, confusing and misunderstood.
Today's image of manhood is confusing.
If you are too tough on your children, you're uncaring, out of touch, mean, and although you had good intentions, will most likely be remembered as a tyrant.
I always feared hearing "Wait until your father gets home!" That, in itself, was punishment enough...just waiting.
If you're too easy, you're a bumbling fool who should never have had children. "Never good with the kids."
Somewhere in the middle is a macho man with the ability to cry at the end of a "chick flick."
Television shows about family usually make the father out to be a sex driven fool who only cares about having a few beers with his buddies while watching sports. He is detached from the wants and needs of his children and solves everything with... "Ask your mother."
The words "You're just like your father" is more of an insult than praise.
You don't gain your children's respect; they simply fear you.
Growing up the world told you that real men don't cry. So you wept in private.
The world called you the "bread winner" so you worked more than you played. "Don't bother your father. He's tired."
The world told you that you had to be strong and set examples even when life was beating the crap out of you.
Then after it is all said and done and you are at the other end of life with fond memories of raising your children, fun times you had, places you took them and the sacrifices made to give them a good life you wonder why they don't come around anymore.
Fathers get ties, shirts, screw drivers, a golf club, a gift card for an oil change, a case of beer, a tool set for the grill, and socks.
When my father died we found never opened shirts and socks and Kmart gift cards.
The truth? All we really want is your time. A hug even if we don't hug well in return or appeared un-hugable all those years.
Your time...an opportunity to tell you about when we were kids even though you heard it a hundred times.
The words, "Thanks, dad. and "I love you." And your time... did I mention...your time?"
Generation after generation all say, "I'm going to raise my kids differently."
So, how's that working out for you?
Happy Father's Day!
~ Bob Perks ~