Today is Fathers’ Day, and I suspect most fathers will spend a least a little time reflecting about what it means to be a father, as well as what it means to be a son. It is worth remembering, I think, that all fathers are also sons, and it seems to me that the experience of being a son informs the role we ultimately assume as fathers in very important ways. My own experience as a son was a difficult one, spawning a strong desire to do better by my children, and to be more aware of the joys of fatherhood than my own father seemed to be. Others may feel a strong desire to try and emulate their fathers, and perhaps feel that they have fallen short of his standard. Regardless, it is a profound role, full of joy and responsibility and pride and worry and struggle and sadness; in other words, full of life, of the things that Faulkner called “the verities.” The things that writers write about.
I miss my father. Despite the difficulties that we had, despite the relationship that could have and should have been so much better, today I am remembering his sense of humor, his love of a good joke, his remarkable ability as a musician (and his lack of ability as a singer), and the times, all too few, when we connected and had a good time together. I hope today my own children have a lot more of those times to reflect upon, and some day, when I am gone, that Fathers’ Day will bring many remembrances of joy and fun. I wish I could tell my dad how the years have helped me understand some of the internal battles that he fought.
As a father, I am thankful today for two children who are and always will be the best and most important things in my life. They have taught me much, and brought more pride and joy than I ever would have believed possible. Despite my best efforts, I feel that I have often fallen short in my role as a father, and yet, they have forgiven my shortcomings and responded with love. I can’t thank them enough. Overall, I think I given more as a father than I received, and perhaps that is the best that we sons can hope for.