I asked a couple of friends recently who had lost their mothers a few years ago when it is that it stops being tear-inducing every time you think of it. Apparently there is no definite answer to that question. But I guess the first year is most definitely the hardest. The first Christmas, their first birthday that they don't get any older, Mom's first birthday, and now the first Father's Day. We never tended to make a huge deal out of Father's Day, just your usual cards and sometimes a present (Mom and Dad had recently decided to tell us to no longer get them presents since they already had everything they needed.) But of course it's hard not to think about him a little more today. And it's not just thinking about him in general that is sad to me, like fun things we did or anything like that. It's thinking about the fact that he's never coming back.
My father was just about everything you'd want in a dad when we were growing up. He and Mom fell into the traditional gender roles in the household, so Mom did all of the cooking and house work stuff while Dad worked full time and dealt with taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, etc. I never once witnessed either of them getting on the other's case about not doing their "job." It all just worked out quite easily. And while my father worked very hard at his job, I never heard him complain about it and I never remember him working late or being gone a lot. We all ate dinner together almost every night, with my younger brother and older sister.
He coached my teams, went to my games, started taking bike rides around town with me when I was around eight years old. He took us skiing, out on the boat, played basketball with us in the driveway, took us to McDonalds, Disney World, made us waffles on Sundays and did countless other dad stuff and he never seemed like it was a chore. He actually seemed to like it. And let me tell you, one thing my father was not good at was pretending to like anything.
Dad taught me a lot of things without actually teaching me. I mean, he taught me some stuff conventionally too, like how to shoot a basketball, swing a bat, cast a fishing lure, drive a boat, drive a car (Mom was the one in the car when I crashed into Nana's house...) ski,and a whole bunch of other stuff. But he also taught me a lot about conducting yourself with integrity, being honest with people, playing by the rules, being good to people, watching your language, being smart about money, showing up on time (or almost always early, as we call it "Zahr time") doing a job to the best of your ability, not raising your voice or getting angry and worked up about things and just being kind to people in general.
My father never once sat me down and told me to do any of these things. It was just how he conducted himself and made me realize that that was obviously how I should act. I won't say I'm perfect, because of course I'm not, but I do know that I never would've wanted to disappoint my father with my behavior. I doubt I succeeded one hundred percent, but I tried, at least.
I guess I did sometimes wonder if this was all some childhood illusion, like this ideal you create based on what you saw when you were a kid and everyone idolizes their father. Well, last week we had the opportunity to attend two events honoring my father. First was a charity golf tournament for a cause that he was on the board of, and this tournament had been named for him. Then an awards dinner for the Associated General Contractors of NH in which he was the recipient of this year's ethics award. At both of these events I had the opportunity to hear some of his business associates, and not even from his own company, who spoke on his behalf and listed a lot of the traits I did. That's just who he was.
So this Father's Day it is very sad that I don't get to give him a hug and tell him to enjoy the day. Each day that passes we just have to get more and more used to living without him. At least I still get to be grateful for all of the wonderful times we did get to spend together. And I don't really have to sit back and regret not having spent enough time with him. I would've liked more of it since September and maybe into his 90's, but I got to spend a lot of time with him while he was here.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. We miss you.