Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ode To Father's Day

I had written this "Ode To Father's Day" last year. It's worth a repost. My perceptions, feelings have not changed. Fathers, love your sons unconditionally and with a whole heart. Be there, always! Happy Father's Day, to those amazing Dads who are making a difference in their children’s lives.  Cheers! – paerki

Happy Father’s Day – I’m not really sure what that phrase means. As I sit here reflecting on my journey, I realize I never had a strong male role model in my life. The men in my household – my father and my brothers – in subtle ways, often tried to change me. I was never quite good enough because I didn’t emulate their behavior. It’s funny, more often than not, their answer for most things: play sports. (I was far from the average child, and that’s an understatement for I appeared and acted just a bit different in expression and action, but nevertheless a normal well-adjusted kid.)

There have been many times in my life when I’ve felt hard pressed to exhibit a joyful expression on Father’s Day, and I don’t want to lie because it took major effort. Even with my grandfathers, they were somewhat aloof, but then again, I didn’t see them very often.

To this very day I recall a visit to my grandparent’s house in Virginia (I was very young – maybe 5 or 6 years old). My grandfather was ill at the time and spent most of his days in bed. He developed what was called back then black lung disease from working in the coal mines. He had asked me to come over and sit beside him, and I did. We talked awhile, but nothing of that conversation stands out with great significance. However, what I do remember is his hug. His left arm was already around me, but he drew me in closer and hugged me hard – very hard. It’s the kind of hug that would stay with anyone because it felt genuine, true and safe.

Later in life, I would begin to qualify his intentions – thinking his hug was offered out of mere pretense because for the most part he wasn’t around long enough for us to bond. Although, in those isolated moments there was enough interaction for him to fascinate me to the point of curiosity, and I’m sure he had stories to tell, but his time had run out. I no longer challenge his intent because as I have gained age, so have I benefited from wisdom – enough to know that some things must never be scrutinized to the point of indifference. Perhaps that should be enough for me to muster an enthusiastic, "Happy Father’s Day!"

Father’s Day, as it always does, comes and goes like the tide. I just don’t think about it, but today I did because when I opened my Facebook page, I saw many photos and plenty of odes from my friends to their Dads. There were a few standouts – "Happy Fathers Day to the most amazing parent out there, my Mom. Love you!" "I never knew my real father, but my grandfather was like my father. He raised me until he was too sick to do so." Those two heartfelt messages tugged at my heartstrings, thus this blog entry.

What makes a Dad worthy of Father’s Day praise? I’m not sure, but I imagine it’s different for each of us. You gave me life. Does that make your worthy? You provided a roof over my head and paid the bills. Does that make you worthy?! I didn’t ask to be born. Your provisions were a requirement because that was your responsibility – well, at least until I was eighteen. (It’s not my intention to come off coldhearted and/or callous, because until you have walked a mile in my shoes, don’t judge me.)

I do appreciate effort and I am thankful to my father for at least living up to his responsibilities, but in my mind he was never worthy of a Father of the Year Award, and to this day I still can’t honor him on Father’s Day, at least I don’t think so.

My father died nine months ago. I am impervious to his passing. However, I do have one memory that has stayed with me forever. I remember the two of us sitting in the family room (I was 10 years old), and he shared a pomegranate with me. Together we watched television and talked. It was nice. I wish every day could have been that golden. There was much inconsistency. I loathed his temperament, but admired his work ethic.

In my deepest heart I thought we had a chance of reconciliation, but the day my father called me a fag – I died inside, if just a little. I felt betrayed. I was deeply wounded for years. I’ve been healed by time and by the actions of parents who love their children unconditionally, for many have extended that love to me and I am forever thankful. I don’t think I could ever express in words just how much that has meant to this sometimes weary traveler, but know it’s been a part of what keeps me thriving and it’s why I am able to feel joy, express love and offer hope, especially to those who’ve traveled a similar journey because I know I am not alone on my path. (We need a "Happy People Who Love Unconditionally Day" – Yes?!)

I forgave my father a long time ago, but I didn’t need to see him again – not even one last time. To him I say, like what I feel for most of my family, I don’t have room in my life for you because of your conservative fundamentalist mentality. As I have written a few times before… If heaven is the ultimate goal, and it’s the God so many have created in their minds and manipulated in their hearts – I say, no thank you. I have no interest in a narcissistic, hubristic God, whose only mission is greed and innuendo.

Believe it or not, I cherish a day to honor those fathers who are worthy. However, I loathe anyone who celebrates this day because they think they must or it’s the right thing to do (says who?). Celebrating Father’s Day out of family expectation or peer pressure is just wrong because a person like you proves you’re never true to the one person you must always be true to first – yourself. I learned a long time ago, never ever sacrifice your integrity because that’s too big of a price to pay.

To all fathers and theirs sons, it’s a two-way street. At all cost, love unconditionally because in times of crises that’s going to save your relationships. To all, show your love every day and don’t wait until Father’s Day to sing the praises of someone who has inspired you – who believes in you every step of the way.

My relationship with my Dad could have been so much more. What’s important now is that I have grown, and I do believe my father has helped me do just that – grow in a way I never imagined. His behavior has made me so much stronger and wiser. He won’t ever know it, but that becomes his greatest gift to his son, who just happens to be gay. So maybe, just maybe this one time I can say – Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I do hope you rest in peace.

Writing can be very cathartic. Just writing this simple blog post has been nurturing to my spirit – to my resolve. I will forever be a work in progress, as will you, humanity.

What would life be like without memories? It’s fair to say, there would be no life at all. Memory is our communication, reason, coherence, our action and more importantly, our feeling. Memories create our path in life, developing our psychology and leading us emotionally.

One of the best ways to create and store memories is with video. These simple effortless little snippets of time create diaries and become perpetual time capsules, which justify our walk on earth, telling all with great enthusiasm… I was here! I mattered! I lived! Please, don’t forget me.

Share your views, thoughts and opinions in the written word. Snap photographs so that your eyes can travel back in time, remembering the happy and sad moments that made you the person you were, are and became in life. But, whenever possible, capture video to enhance the memories you leave behind, so that others may pass the essence of your life on to future generations.


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"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." - Susan B. Anthony

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