Thanks Dad!

ImageShould someone still celebrate Father’s Day even when his or her father is no longer around?

Mother’s seem to have cornered the market on the parental recognition/celebration front. Statistics show people spend 41% more on their mothers for Mother’s Day than on their fathers for Father’s Day. Does that mean mother’s are better or is it just they’re better at PR and marketing?

My generation’s mothers were often viewed as the power behind the throne. Dad was allowed to look like he was running the show but inside the family it was pretty clear who kept the trains running on time. Within the confines of those four walls even dad would acquiesce to mom by saying, “Ask your mother”.  That one statement has been the butt of many a joke. It could even be said it’s a national punch line. “Go ask your mother” seemed to illustrate a perceived avoidance of responsibility or just simply the recognition that dad didn’t have clue.  Which couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you think I’m down on Dad’s I’m not.  I respect the institution and the job. Talk about thankless. For years they are regaled to behind the camera, at the grill, or away at work. Kids hardly acknowledged dad except for Father’s Day or when they needed money, a human ATM.

You might be asking yourself, what does fatherhood and Father’s Day have to do with work? Well, my father taught me to work and my work ethic. Those lessons have served me well, even to this day.

Dad was big on personal responsibility and self-reliance. Being an older father when I came along he didn’t have the patience for excuses. He expected me and my brother to do what was expected of us. No questions asked. Like many rebellious children, I didn’t always meet those expectations.  My life has been a series of nontraditional choices. I went into the military and then work. I didn’t just want to work but I wanted a career. I don’t doubt dad would rather I had gone a more traditional route.

Sometimes I find myself wondering if dad wanted me to be a “traditional woman” why did he raise me so nontraditional, for the time. He taught me things, girls of the time didn’t learn. He taught me to change a tire, and my oil. He would talk to me like an equal on historical and political topics. He held me to the same standard as my brother, and in some things higher, like driving.

It’s been about 14 years since dad died and when he died I’m sorry to say we were not on the best of terms. You might call our relationship an armed truce. Even though he’s gone, I still think of him often. There were a lot of hurt feelings but time heals over those open wounds. I know he did the best he could, in the context of the times. So this Father’s Day as before, I feel the need to say, “thank you dad”. Thank you for making me, me. I don’t know if you meant to make me this ambitious, compassionate, driven person but I salute for it, along with all the other fathers who quietly and thanklessly give to their children.