With Father’s Day just around the corner, it felt opportune to remember fathers in today’s column. It’s unfortunate to have lost my Dad almost 20 years now, when he was only in his late 60s.
Often at Sunday Mass, I’m reminded of my own Dad, years after his stroke, when I see aging fathers wheeled in chairs and cared for by loved ones. For certain, these men must have been formidable figures in business or in their respective professions during their time. Seeing our Dad through many years of a prolonged illness, we all know how trying it is to care for a frail father in his later years.
In an odd way, I do honestly at times slightly begrudge families during Sunday lunch out. I see most families joined by their dads who are well into their senior years, typically gray-haired and all but remain a strong figure in their lives. For most of my childhood and adolescence, my Dad was the boss at Sunday lunch, planning which restaurants to try out and even picking the best items on the menu, as he was an accomplished home chef himself.
Dads have a unique influence in all our lives, teaching us how to stand true to our convictions, imbibing in us the value of hard work, showering us with affection, and being good-humored when needed. It’s a pity though to hear of stories about how some people have estranged and strained relationships with their fathers. For some, I’ve heard of how authoritarian parents with strict military discipline adversely affected their relationships with their children. But in the end, despite the animosity with their fathers, such an upbringing still influenced their own life views somehow.
I sincerely hope that fathers out there heed this advice too—all children will always need a good father figure in their lives and that keeping a strong rapport with your children may spell the difference in their sense of success and security later on.
I suppose that even in my Dad’s absence, the one thing I will always be grateful for was not having had a strained relationship with my him. If there’s one thing I hope we, as children, should realize is that fathers may not be perfect themselves, but that the relationship we have with them will shape us for good or for bad. In the end, it is our own choice to understand our own father’s strengths and shortcomings, and the crescendos of moments spent with our fathers that will build our character.
It was Umberto Eco in Foucault’s Pendulum who wrote, “I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
Fortunately, my memories of my Dad was of a truly jovial, kind-hearted character whose quirks always left us laughing hilariously most times. If there was one thing Daddy indelibly bequeathed us in his lifetime, it was to simply enjoy life and to live life to the fullest. His inherent joie de vivre was simply infectious—the same spirit my siblings and I carry with us in our relationships, careers and pursuits.
And so, whether you’re called Daddy, Papa, Tatay, or may even be Stepdad, may you all have a joyful and memorable Father’s Day!