The first Father's Day without my father, in 2001, was the hardest time I had since he died in August 2000. Harder than his funeral (when I went on autopilot), Christmas, or my parents' anniversary or even his birthday (which came only a month and a half after his death, so perhaps I hadn't fully absorbed it.)
That first Father's Day, the world seemed to prattle on, like verbal bullies on the playground, "We have a father, and you--- don't."
Father's Day 2002 and 2003 were somewhat better, though I found myself occasionally jealous of people with fathers.
Father's Day 2004 was definitely a mixed bag. It was the first year I was a father and I got a lot of affirmation, especially from my mother, my sisters, my fellow church members, my friends.
Still, I was missing my father in a whole new way. I wondered, "What kind of advice would he have given me?" and "Would I have accepted it?" I felt that whatever he might have said to my sisters when they were raising their daughters wouldn't necessarily apply to me. It was a "guy thing", but I don't know how that would manifest itself in this situation. And, of course, I wish that my father had been able to see my daughter. (A belief in an afterlife assuages this only marginally.)
As another Father's Day approaches, I hope that Lydia will give me socks, like I gave my dad. I think that this year, I'll be able to concentrate on the joy instead of the sorrow. Indeed, I know that I'm feeling easier now about being a father. It's not that I know much more; it's that I'm not so concerned about not knowing what I'm doing like I did last year. (This may be a function of the fact that I have had somewhat more sleep in June 2005 than in June 2004.)
And I hope that if someone reading this has a living father with whom he or she is estranged, reconciliation may be found. Despite our occasional turmoil, my father and I ended up in a pretty good place with each other. For that, I do feel very fortunate.
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