In a few months, I will be the age my father was when he passed away. That was 28 years ago. Like in many homes, we have pictures of family members here and there including one of my Dad. The picture is in sepia tone and he’s a young man in his early 30s.
Whenever I glance at it, memories of him flow through my head: me as a young boy trying to walk in his shoes; him pushing me on my bike and then letting it go after having taken the training wheels off; going with him on Saturday mornings to his part-time job as the transmission engineer for WJLK radio; sobbing at 7-years old as he was leaving for three months to work in Alaska; going to the beach in Belmar on weekends and then to Carvel Ice Cream on the way home; fishing with him at the Shark River Inlet and off the jetties in Asbury Park; him tutoring me in geometry and being confused about why I didn’t get it because it was so easy for him; the time I tried to get between him and my mother while they were arguing and him staring me down (and me backing up); he being really, really p-o’d when I stayed out all night for my senior prom; him dropping me off at college for the first time; the times I didn’t show him the respect he was due because I foolishly thought I was smarter than him; his help during some difficult times as a young working adult; watching him let my wife hug him when showing affection which was something he just didn’t do; him trying to feed my kids foods he liked that they didn’t want to eat and having to intervene; having spiritual conversations with him; visiting him when he was recovering from a stroke; being told by a friend that he had expressed pride in me; watching him come to grips with his terminal cancer; closing his eyes on the morning he passed.
I still miss him, and although I’m glad he’s not around to see how far the world hasn’t come, given some of the hard places and situations he and his siblings had to survive, there’s a part of me that would love to hear his commentary on the state of things. Just thinking about it makes me smile because I know it would be deep, provocative, and funny all at the same time.
I received so much from my father that I never thanked him for, but I have tried to pay it forward with my own children. He gave me a rich legacy, some of which I’m still discovering as I deepen my relationship with his youngest sister who is now in her mid-80s. She has told me a number of things about my Dad I never knew.
For my friends who have recently lost a father or who experienced that loss as a child or who never knew your father, I suspect Fathers’ Day is a particularly tender time for you. Even with your loss, I’m sure there is something of him in you that those who know you best can spot. I pray you are able to celebrate that this Fathers’ Day.
To all of my fellow Dads, Granddads, Fathers-in-Law and father figures including uncles, much older brothers, teachers, pastors, mentors and coaches, I pray you are able to receive the blessings of honor this day especially.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2020. All rights reserved totext content.