I know what it’s like to be without a father on Father’s Day. In this regard, I have been alone for almost twenty-five years. But before the most important man in my life died, he was there for me. In his own bizarre and fun and wonderfully generous ways. Frankly, I blame that man for much of my bizarre behavior the past sixty-three years. There are certainly others to blame – mostly my own twisted self – but this is about Father’s Day.
And. This is not about my dad. It’s not about any dad, really.
It’s about the kids of dads who disappeared.
It struck me tonight that many of my friends, family, and kids I have known and loved for decades are mostly – or always – without their dads. And have been since their youth or forever. Well, this is my possibly bizarre attempt to ease the pain of those folks who often need the love of a rarely or never found dad.
Look, I think I know how men can be. I mean, I am a man myself.
I am well aware of a man’s urge to simply walk away from everything. When I was a young man, all I wanted to do was to walk away from real life. All I wanted was to live alone on a farm somewhere. Just me.
And my dog, McFee. At that time, all other possibilities scared the hell out of me.
I somehow overcame that fear. For a time, anyway. So I took a job, got married and had a child myself. But, as my wife was suffering through the labor that brought my son to life, my very first “man” reaction was to get the hell out of that room and take McFee to the farm!
I feel like I was privileged back then. My own dad gave me a college education, I was given a great job and a wife that I loved dearly. Still, when my very own son was being born, I wanted to run like hell!
I guess I stayed around for the very same reason my dad never permanently left me or my siblings. But the man left us plenty of times. I have very few memories of my dad being around when I was young. I think he tried his damnedest to find his own farm. But he always came back. And I think I know why.
Men are strong. In many ways. But when it comes to our children and to the mothers of our children, well there is a weakness many of the strongest men cannot overcome. And my dad was weak. Very weak in this regard.
I guess what I am saying here is that men who want to be or believe that they are strong enough to overcome the weakness of love find themselves in uncontrollably awkward situations. So they leave. For a while or forever.
Look, the ultimate weakness in men who totally leave their children in favor of their devotion to their own strength, is no excuse for neglecting the children that define the man. But to those kids who feel totally neglected, here are my thoughts.
My dad left me, plenty of times. But I forgave him. And he knew that. If he had been as strong as your dad, he would have never returned. And if he had never returned, well – again, I was privileged. I knew the man well enough to know that, without any doubts, the man – my dad – loved me.
And would forever.
I also know that if I had run away from my child’s birth, like I wanted to, I may not even know the kid right now. But I am certain that I would love him just as much as my dad loved me.
My guess is that your dads feel the very same about their love for you.