Father’s Day cards have always been a problem for me. You see, my relationship with my father was complicated. “You’re the greatest dad in the world!” I don’t think so. “You’ve always been there for me!” Not exactly. “You’ve shown me the person I want to be.” Nope.
What I needed were cards that said, “You did the best you could.” Or, “Now I understand that your childhood was so much harder than mine.” Or, “I’m sorry things didn’t turn out the way you wanted.” Get the picture?
But the great thing about age is perspective, if you choose to use it. My father was a child of the Great Depression, followed quickly by World War II. We think we have stress? Those were some seriously stressful times, and I am sure the home-life of every single child was impacted by A) the fear of losing everything you owned and living in a truck; and B) a war that involved almost every country in the world against enemies who still set the standard for evil. He entered adulthood in a world that did not require a college education for a successful career, and by the 1970’s his job was threatened and then replaced with college graduates. He had an explosive and unpredictable temper, intensified with depression in an age when diagnosis and treatment were far more limited than they are today. Did others overcome the same obstacles and still deserve the “World’s Greatest Dad” card? Maybe so, but if I have learned anything in 60 years, it is that everyone is different, and even two people from the same family react to the same situations in very different ways.
HOWEVER…my father was the most optimistic person I have ever known, or likely to ever know. No matter how bad things got, he never stopped dreaming his dreams and believing with conviction that they would come true. Please understand the level of optimism I am talking about. Even after he was living in a nursing home, confined to bed or a wheelchair, car and apartment both gone, he was talking about when he could get out of there and get a house where we could come visit him. For goodness sake, he got married in the nursing home. That is positivism in the extreme.
So Daddy, Happy Father’s Day. I hope God had the good sense to keep you and your mother-in-law (and a few others) on opposite sides of of Heaven, though I have wondered if some of our big storms were you guys running into each other up there. I hope you have your house on the pond, where the boys and I can come fishing when we get there. I hope a replica of Sulphur Dell is within walking distance, and all the great ball players play there like your own field of dreams. I hope on your TV, Vanderbilt always beats Tennessee, and the Titans win every Super Bowl. I hope you know, that in spite of everything, I do miss you. I look forward to seeing you again without all the troubles and the heartache.
Maybe I need a card that says that.