Fathers occupy a special place in our lives. Usually for good but sometimes for ill, they are interwoven with who we are. For this Father's Day, we went out in search of reflections that would do justice to this bond. We found them among friends in grief, still trying to put into words what their fathers' recent passings meant to them. Here is some of what they said:
"My father meant safe and protected. I always knew everything would be just fine. I imagine I'm like most girls who view their fathers as superheroes. It's a bit of a shock to realize they are human, but it doesn't weaken that safe place. My father wasn't a police officer or firefighter. He didn't run into burning buildings. But I never doubted he could solve any problem or fix anything that was broken."
"My dad was my hero. He taught me about giving, about helping old people and children, about always telling the truth, about humility."
"Now that my dad is gone, I could see all the gifts this lovely man gave me and all the things we actually have in common even though I was his only girl. He taught me if you work hard good things will come your way. Treat everyone you encounter with a smile and warmth. He gave me a love for sports. He showed me how to honor your commitments and to be a giving person and work hard, not just for you but for the family that counts on you. To forgive people and to love unconditionally."
"My dad will always have a special place in my heart because he always showed me love. He always respected my feelings. When he helped fix the household gadgets, like the TV, taking out the tubes and not remembering where everything went and eventually putting it all back together with a clearer picture, he taught me tenacity. When he helped family members or friends in need, sharing what we had, he taught me to be generous. When my Mom passed away and he collapsed into my brothers' arms in tears, he taught me to LOVE BIG. When he struggled to remain independent and not to be a burden, he taught me that life is to be lived right up to the last breath."
"The saying, 'The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother' speaks volumes about him. While our father was very tough but also very fair with his children, we always knew he was there for our mother and in turn for us."
"I had a father who was there for me, who was concerned about me in a way that nobody else was. He was the person who 'got me,' the person with whom I could completely and unreservedly be myself."
"When a parent dies, the best you can hope for is that you'll someday learn to live with the loss and that the pain will recede and not be as acute as it is in the early stages of grief. And eventually, time helps moderate the grief, but it's always there, under the surface, ready to come out. For me, Father's Day serves as a reminder that I'll never hear my dad's voice on the phone again."
So here is our Father's Day message: If you're a father, what words would you want your kids to say about you? Is there anything more you need to do to earn them?
And if you're someone lucky enough to still have your father, what do you want to say to him? Don't let another minute slip by without saying it.