I have become a Father’s Day player hater. In fact, Baby Bro and I are convinced we could become rich with our own Hallmark line, one dedicated to people like us, if that is even a possible statement one could make. I’ll get to that. I would first like to convey that I believe with all my heart good men are in the world. I see and know beautiful, loving, honest, trustworthy fathers every day. My brothers, my coworkers, bosses, and friends. The people who know me best and love me anyway are and have been male, my ex husband being one I am most proud of.
Okay, okay. You get it. I am not a bitter, male bashing single 32 year old woman, deprived of sex and sleep. Okay, maybe the sex and sleep. Anyways, I marvel at the love I see around me, the importance of good fathers in the world, and I believe to honor them for a day is the least of what they deserve. When I was at M’s party last week, a girl showed me a tattoo of a magnificent tree, her voice choking back tears as she spoke of her father’s recent death, the grief of what Father’s Day would remind her of. The man she loved and missed with every heartbeat. Fathers are fascinating.
I think of my friend, the Mad Scientist, and his love affair with his father, his best friend and hero, who has Alzheimer’s Disease, the tattoo he had on his arm that his father had done to match the other half, so that no matter what, the two of them would recognize love was beyond even our own memories. It links us together, taps our souls and we can fight it, hate it, or love it, but the truth is we belong to someone who brought us here. It is our unique right of passage into this world, and we all have our own story to tell.
Marco speaks of his father like he were talking about an angel, a man so full of wisdom and truth, telling him right and wrong, a man to this day of little words but big heart. He also told me childhood stories of being rushed home to bed, mama telling the kids to not move or make a sound, police lights circling the house, his daddy coming back from burying drugs in the back yard. His father would stash the family rent under the seats of the car, buckling him and his brother on top.
Clyde refers to his dad as the man from the movie, “Big Fish,” the character bigger than life, crazy and genius and loud in the telling of his stories. Clyde is the son, rolling his eyes, loving him with all his heart, and yet, driven absolutely crazy by him, never feeling heard or understood.
My favorite girl, she who owns a sacred part of my heart, in high school, actually finds the woman with red finger nails hiding in her Daddy’s closet, the woman who tore down every dream she and him had built together. Now that we are adults I see those dreams had been real all along, that it took hard work and time for her to see that he was not just her father, but a person. Somehow, through the years, I came to admire what they have because in the good, the ugly, the ups, and downs, it is real.
They have something I dare to call love.
I dare call it love for I have seen that word used by the darkness as well, cloaked in words like forgiveness, healing, scripture, therapy, an energy hungry to destroy the very souls wanting to embrace it. Take Preacher D, who raised the closest father to my heart, to torture him, to yell, run over his bicycle and beat him for leaving it in the driveway. He tormented and starved him, bringing home different mothers, and to this day, Preacher D says he loves his son, and once I met him, just the day of our wedding. He calls every few years, mostly to see how our walk with God is coming along.
I believe we all know a little of this darkness, some much more than others, and I used to believe I could fight it, understand it, change it, overcome it. I now know the only darkness we can heal is that in our own selves, and I have learned that lesson with so much pain, so often, that I have learned never to judge what I do not understand.
It is a humble lesson, one my marriage and my father have taught me well.
We had a little work conversation about what this day, Father’s Day and what it means, and my friend D has eyes light up like Christmas trees when she talks about her dad, a man who lays up all night worrying about her opening her first credit card, who comes in to tip her 30 bucks. He brags about her and she glows, a sight I find breathtaking.
For more of us than I thought, our fathers leave a bitter taste in our mouths, and after many rounds, I found much material Baby Bro and I can add to our growing Hallmark line. It is a dark humored line, not for most, but originates from our hopeless search to find a card to say what we feel on days like this, as if we needed reminding that finding a card for our father is quite frankly, an impossible task. We want to represent those of us who are sick to death of stamping bullshit and sending it, rather than facing the truth of our nonexistent relationships. These infamous holidays seem to be most important for the ones in our lives who need us to validate what they are not, have never been, and if sent by card, email, phone, or skype, damnit, so be it.
These marked holidays are too big for even them to ignore and so for one day a year, they need us to play.
A game I think a lot of us are sick to death of.
We are a dying breed in this huge holiday industry, trying to find cards that speak some element of truth, the least of all blank, much less the cheesy rhyming rose colored glass half full of lies, lies so big the paper smells like gasoline burning the lining of our stomachs.
I don’t know what we would do with cards that said what we felt, the group of us sick of feeling alone and defeated every year in Kroger, exhausted from the lines of poetry written for people we have never known.
How about this? This was collected just from being at work, my attempt to justify this blog, an attempt to research collective souls I see on a daily basis.
“Thanks Dad for stealing my identity and ruining my credit.”
“Dad, I love you but being wasted every day of my life kind of ruined all our memories.”
“Happy Father’s Day. Have we met?”
“If you had money for a boat and a mansion for your wife and two kids, was the child support not really in the mail?”
“Dad, thanks for the phone calls. It did suck you only had time once to visit.”
It went on and on, so much that a few of the regulars cheered, tapping their beers in the air, a high five from across the bar. I hope that all the people that are cloaked in the real meaning of this day are not even around to read this, celebrating by cook outs, kisses, gifts, and cards. I certainly will be. I have a beautiful father of two girls, and my brother D to congratulate and support, off to work to wait tables afterward. I am certain to see full tables of loving fathers being welcomed and kissed, cards lovingly passed, surprise endings, and happy faces.
But, I also have my own truth, and it is my hope to reach out to those of us who are hungry for something we never had, who ache to see it, who cry for longing for it, who lay at a grave for missing it.
For you, Dad.