These sorts of holidays bring up bittersweet memories for those of us without fathers any longer and/or fathers who were less than the Hallmark ideal of “perfect.”
Regular readers of Take As Directed and Terra Sigillata have likely read my belated eulogy to my father, Dear Dad, With Love. The PharmDad passed away at 58 from pneumonia secondary to alcoholism. I really wish he was still here today to know my wife and his eight-year-old granddaughter. But I carry with him the best of him.
Tom Linden, Director of the University of North Carolina Medical and Science Journalism Graduate Program, is a friend and mentor who took time to comment on that post via email overnight. Tom also pointed me to this wonderful op-ed by Charles Blow in The New York Times. Blow reflects on his own imperfect father in beautiful prose – I’m not giving you a spoiler by citing his penultimate paragraph:
It just goes to show that no matter how estranged the father, no matter how deep the damage, no matter how shattered the bond, there is still time, still space, still a need for even the smallest bit of evidence of a father’s love.
Without my Dad today, I want to acknowledge the love and support of an important father figure in my life. There are many men today who may not be biological fathers but who are nevertheless deserving of honor on this special day.
My Mom found a wonderful man who helped her through the loss of my Dad and is giving her the rest of a life that she has long deserved. Bernie is Opa to my daughter and my sister’s two boys and has been for me the source of inspiration, advice, and great wit over the last 15 or so years. While Mom and Bernie have retired to New Mexico to live the retirement they have hard-earned and it’s difficult to get to see them as often as we’d like, I can always count on Bernie over the miles for timely cards, gifts to my wife and daughter, and a good conversation. His generosity to us and his unwavering care of my Mom is the kind of fathering for which people like him don’t often receive credit. So, mein Stiefvater, I am grateful to you today for all the love and support you bring to our family, especially our children.
And many, many thanks for the awesome New Mexican dinner we had earlier this month when I visited Santa Fe. Love and sentiment is all well and good but incredible food elevates you to a whole other level!