Father’s Day is a tough one for some people. Not for card manufacturers, or T-shirt sellers, or Amazon’s worldwide sites, but for those who grew up without a father, because he was absent, or deceased, or at best part-time and semi-committed.
I cringe when I see schools and clubs encouraging children to make cards to take home, because I know that not every household contains a father figure. What is the person who unpacks the child’s bag to make of this tribute to a man who isn’t there?
Of course, you will realise by now that I have my own issues around Father’s Day. My own father is either alive or dead. We are not sure which. He married my mother in 1959; they moved to Dublin, Ireland, and had seven children. My mother didn’t discover birth control until late in the day, and even then, it didn’t work! Ireland is a Catholic country, and large families were the norm. By 1969, my father was spending more and more time away from home, and by away, I mean ‘in Mexico’ or ‘overseas’. He never was a conventional person, and I believe he has fathered many other children in Mexico, or India (where he was raised) or both.
I don’t especially want to meet any of these other sibllings, or even to meet my father again. I saw my father briefly in 1997, after a 23 year gap. By this time I was an adult, and able to discern for my self that he was not of particularly sound mind. It’s a very long story, not one that I can go into right now.
My point is, and I realise that I will have to initiate this tradition myself, is that, as an alternative to being bombarded with emails about Father’s Day from, say Pet Specialists (yes, that really does happen), I would like to offer a alternative.
If you know someone who grew up without a father, because he was absent, dead, or ‘away on business’ most of the time, or so badly affected by the War that he rarely came out of his shell, can you spare a thought for them this day? Send them an email, or drop round with a present. Of course, a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers can never make up for the loss or lack of a parent, but it acknowledges that this is a tricky day for some people, and that their suffering is acknowledged too, on this day of celebration.
I rarely ‘preach’, let alone to strangers, but I wish to turn the tide of bitterness, regret and and sorrow that I experience on father’s day, every year, and if this post helps one other person, then it will have done its work. Right, I’m off to send some emails. Deep breath…