Next Father’s Day, Take Your Father For Granted

On Father’s Day, I was expecting, and received, articles about how important it is to be a good father, on how anyone can be a good father, on whether we should even consider mothers and fathers separately, on the importance of parenting, how parents should step up and be better, how we should step up and be better too. Father’s Day is such a part of the national consciousness that our current President even made a speech about dads a few years ago.

But this Father’s Day, I tried to forget about mine.

I don’t have a full memory of my father from Father’s Day, except for one time when my mom made us a picnic and he pretended to hate it because he didn’t like eating outside and the chicken was cold. This is fitting, considering I don’t have specific memories of him from most holidays, especially ones that he considered fake (Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, anything remotely commercialized).

But with every unwanted email from Eastern Mountain Sports, it began to dawn on me that this was the first of many years that I’d be expected, and required, to reflect on the memories of my dad. To which I’d argue that anniversaries don’t matter for fathers and their children as much as they matter to everyone else not part of that relationship.

To say I remember my dad every single day is an understatement; it’s probably accurate to say every hour, without getting carried away and being overly dramatic. He died in November, and it seems strange now that a finite time sets our relationship apart from others that I have. I was expected to recall and talk about him on Father’s Day, but most of the time my friends fear bringing him up, worried that they might bring me out of a good mood and into a dark memory. I’d consider myself lucky to go longer without thinking about him.

Because when a parent dies, that’s all you’re left with — yourself. I don’t miss my dad, as much as the person I used to be when he was alive. I’ve become inherently selfish because he isn’t around to get the attention I’m pushing at him; it ricochets back, with nowhere to return but to myself. I miss having two-sided memories, and I am physically exhausted when I think about living the rest of my life holding up the weight of a relationship that has no other person in it.

Even though all of us experience it, death sets you apart from people. I can’t mention my father without weight anymore; whereas once he was merely my dad, now he’s my dad who died. He’ll never escape that label, no more so than he could escape the label of father once I was born. Sometimes I wonder if, with death, parents pass the weight of parenthood on to their children, newly defined as parentless.

But of course, these “holidays” are what you make them. Why dwell? We all know it’s just another reason to tell someone you love and appreciate them. Why would we begrudge a parent their special attention, when there are so many that deserve it?

For those who have lost a father, Father’s Day is a day for everyone else to remember what you think about every day. But for next year, I say: go on — take your dad for granted. I give you permission to do nothing special for him, to treat him exactly like you always have. I’d like a day when my dad’s status as a father wasn’t loaded with meaning. It’s the biggest luxury you can have.

Because one day, sooner than you’d like, there won’t be a picnic in the park, you won’t be able to forget him, and not having to remember might seem like the best cold chicken you’ve ever had. TC mark

image – herrylawford


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  • anonymous

    This article made me cry. I have a very difficult relationship with my dad so we rarely talk. A Goofy Movie (the most father-son kids’ movie ever) was my favourite thing to watch growing up. :(

  • Lauren.

    Sincerely heartbreaking. This was the second Fathers Day since my stepdad died, and it was just as somber and oppressive a day in my mom’s house as it was last year.

  • Guest

    Thank you for this. My father died two years ago and I cannot tell you how accurately you summed up my feelings. And I know it sounds trite and I’m sure you get tired of hearing this/being told this, but it will get easier with time.

  • Truth Seeker


  • Anonymous

  • Joi8ichi

    Not to sound completely jaded and whatnot, but my father has been gone for 8 years and it doesn’t really get better with time. What actually happens is, you forget him.

    You forget the little things that made him your dad, the infinitesimal things that made you laugh at his silly, corny jokes, the embarrassing things he’d say to you in public just to see you blush, the way he yelled at you if you came home late from curfew, the exasperated sigh he’d give you when you asked for money to go out with friends, all that and more.

    For me, Father’s Day has become a day to remember him, but also grieve at all the events in my life that he’s missed. The day I passed my road test, the day I graduated from high school, when I got accepted to college, the day I graduated from college, the day I get married and he’s not there to walk me down the aisle and give me away, the day my kids are born, these landmarks will happen, and life goes on but your father, your dad, he’s gone.

    People shouldn’t need a specific set aside day to spend time with their dads, stepdads, father figures, and etc. That should be every day as long as you have him. There will be that one day that you sit in your living room and realize that from this point onward your dad misses everything.

  • xx

    thx for posting.

  • Natasha

    “and I am physically exhausted when I think about living the rest of my life holding up the weight of a relationship that has no other person in it.”

    Both of my parents died a few years ago, when I was 19 and this is the most poignant description of what I’ve felt ever since

  • Guest

    this was one of the best articles i’ve ever read. honestly. thank you.

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