Aeneas carried his aged father on his back from the ruins of Troy and so do we all, whether we like it or not, perhaps even if we have never known them.
They say that your home life molds you into who you are, your values, your hang ups, your insecurities. And through the years, the definition of what a good father is has changed. Used to be that a good father was a good provider. Sure, he didn’t have time to be with the family, couldn’t break away to watch all your sports activities, but you had a home and food on the table, and a mom who kept the family glued together. And then, as more women entered the workplace and the stereotype held by men slowly changed, a good father became one who was able to spend more time with you as you were growing up. Nowadays, the younger generation of fathers leave work early for sports activities, take days off to toilet train our babies (mine saved my life with our youngest), attend every school event that they can. Providing for the family is now shared by both parents and the pressure to spend all hours at work a thing of the past.
An unconventional life, an unconventional family. Some of us aren’t lucky enough grow up in a home where there was a mom and a dad, a brother or perhaps a sister, and all the trimmings of normality. I’ve seen what not having a male influence in your life could do to a daughter or a sister. I grew up during a time when the words “I love you” were so rarely spoken that they meant so much more when they were. But it didn’t matter. Because the absence of these words made their actions speak louder and their presence more impactful. On the other hand, my children were raised with those three little words imbibed in them every single day. It made them feel more confident about themselves, but it did little to protect them from the heartaches and disappointments that are just a part of growing up. What matters most, I think, is the example that we as adults, as mothers and as fathers, show them and instill in them every single day.
These men, these fathers. I’ve known them at different stages of my life:
A grandfather who taught me about discipline and hard work. And another one who taught me about generosity and kindness.
A father who was there at the pivotal moments in my life. And a stepfather who loved me like I was his own daughter. A father in law, who in his silence, observes and supports with pride and acknowledgement.
An uncle who treated me as one of his own and cousins who loved me like their own sibling.
A boss who mentored me and took me under his wing as if his only success was my success.
And a husband who proves by example that a daughter learns about self-respect through the love and relationship that she has with her father. Because of him, I have a daughter who sees how her father treats her mother and demands nothing less for herself.
Today I celebrate Father’s Day with much gratitude and love. Because over the years, I have realized that I’d failed to see how my life had been filled with the good parts of many fathers.
And on this day, I honor them all.