Celebrate Father’s Day in your own way

June 21, 2020

Growing up in the 1950s was a time when fathers ruled the roost. My mother anticipated the half-hour when he would pull into the driveway, and she would empty the ice tray. He took his seat at the head of the kitchen table where his bourbon on the rocks was waiting.

My mother’s demeanor would soften like the lipstick she donned for him. He would tell her about his day, while his six daughters didn’t enter the kitchen until we were summoned for dinner after their cocktail hour.

Dinnertime conversation seemed to center around table manners or appropriate portions. It wasn’t relaxing nor did it unify us. After dinner, he would go upstairs to take a nap, and we would argue about whose turn it was to do the dishes.

On Father’s Day we would all make cards, and we meant all the words we wrote because that’s what obedient children did. What mattered was that it pleased our mother. We loved her more than ice cream and Lassie, and only wanted her to love us back, which she did with every fiber of her being.

Later as a newlywed, I recall using the word alcoholic when my father lay dying in the hospital. My mother still called it a drinking problem. I began to understand that WW II was a real event, not just the old movies and gunfire ricocheting in the family room where he sat alone, bourbon and cigarette in hand.

The war broke him, my mother later explained after I married and moved away. I don’t think he enjoyed being a dad. He didn’t want all the responsibility that goes along with it.

When good fortune allowed me to celebrate Father’s Day in my home, there was cause to celebrate together. Ray is a kind, gentle man who took his role as husband and father seriously.

Today, he is a loving grandfather to his grandchildren. Proud of the parents his two children have become.

Father’s Day is not cause for celebration in every home. Neither is Mother’s Day. I don’t like these holidays. They help sell cards, set unrealistic expectations and often cause pain.

The role of parenting during this pandemic is more challenging than anyone has yet to measure. It is like a war. To the mothers and fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents, and friends who have taken on new roles as teachers, counselors, and parents, and all who are doing your best to make children feel safe, fed, and loved – you are ones who deserve our applause and our admiration.

Being a parent is the hardest job anyone can ever do. Maybe it’s harder than being a good soldier. I don’t know. I wish I could go back and change a few things. I bet my parents feel the same way.

As you celebrate Father’s Day in your house, reflect upon the best choices your own parents have made. You probably won’t make the same mistakes. But as my wise mother would say, “You will make new ones.”

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter