When I logged on to Facebook this morning for my daily duty, there was an overwhelming number of Fathers’ Day sentiments. Some folks have changed their profile pictures to one of their father… some are testamonials to the memory of a father who has passed on. Others opt to simply wish everyone a happy Fathers’ Day. One that caught my eye was a happy wish to “all” the poster’s fathers–father-in-law, husband, etc.
Fathers’ Day as we know it is attributed to the efforts of Sonora Louise Smart Dodd. The story includes how while listening to a Mothers’ Day Sermon she began thinking about how difficult life must have been for her father. When she was but 16, her mother died giving birth to her sixth child. Her father then raised the family (including the newborn) on his own. (The story of Fathers’ Day can be found at this Fathers’ Day website.)
In a sense, my story is somewhat the reverse. My father – at least in a physical sense – left this world when I was seven. But I am fond of telling people that he haunts me still, in ways that are positive beyond belief. My testimonial to him was written nearly twenty years ago and appears in Small People — Big Brains. It’s called “Thanks, Dad” and it is appropriate to remember it and him today.
It is also a good day to consider the quote “It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.” No one tried to (nor could have) replace my father, but throughout my life I had the good fortune to be touched by a number of guys with heart. I hesitate to name names, because it’s a long list. Very shortly after Dad died, I remember neighbor “Mr. Blanchard” helping me build a birdhouse… Uncle Art letting me “help” him do the haying… “Toppy” who ran the town gas station/fishing supply store slipping an extra lure into my bag when I spent my meager allowance on hooks. In later years he called me “Boomer,” a nickname my father enjoyed and it was as if I was somehow filling the gap he felt when he lost his friend.
Today is a day to celebrate all of those men who in ways large and small befriended someone younger–who, unfortunately, may never know how much it meant.