My dad was not a Fathers' Day dad. While he always appreciated gestures of love and kindness, he really kind of liked them to happen organically and not because the calendar said it was Fathers' Day, or his birthday, or Christmas. Last year on Fathers' Day, I stressed because I really didn't have the money to drive down to visit him (last summer was tough), and he said, "Don't worry, really. I know you love me!" and that was that. I don't even know what he did that day. Since my brother lives in town and has his own three young children, I assume they spent time hanging out together. It's nice. I didn't think twice about it, because my dad had given up guilt trips years ago. I thought maybe this year things would be different, I could take that Sunday off work and go hang out with my dad.
And now I don't have a dad to hang out with.
The typical, expected things trip me up, of course. Sunday's looming and I work retail (all weekend, in fact). Fathers' Day stuff is everywhere. My mother moved out of our family's home and into one she had built herself just yesterday. I thought about how I'd never stand in the same spots as my father now that another family is living in that house, and I did break down for a few minutes. I was alone, and it was okay. (Crying makes people uncomfortable, even people who love you very much, and I understand the discomfort.) But I'm not as sad as I thought I would be at this point. In August, I was certain the world was going to stop, at least for a couple of days. Now it's just Our Lives, minus Dad.
I've been trying to think of what to do on Fathers' Day this year. My kids will be with their own dad, and I'm sure my spouse and father-in-law will try to take some time together. Now it turns out I'm working that evening, and I think the time between church (which I might skip because reasons) and work will be spent doing things around the house and not thinking about not having a dad. I should call my brother up and tell him Happy Fathers' Day. He is such a loving father to his three kids. I might even tell my ex-husband Happy Fathers' Day since, even though we disagree on a lot, he is also a loving father to our kids, giving them new experiences in the outdoors and ensuring they have a good relationship with their Taiwanese grandparents.
I'm so grateful I had my dad for thirty-six-and-a-half years. I think the only thing worse than missing a parent is having had one who wasn't worth missing. A lot of my adolescence was spent with us yelling and misunderstanding one another, but I spent the 21 years I lived in my parents' home waking up and falling asleep in the knowledge that they loved me just as I was.
If you're estranged from a loved one, no matter who you think is at "fault," I promise you that there is no day like today to bridge the distance. You might not get the response you want. But as the cliche goes, we are not promised tomorrow. Being right isn't always important. When it comes to a parent, child, sibling, or dear friend who might not be what we want them to be, our convictions don't matter nearly as much as being sure they feel our love above all other things. And if you have a dad, tell him you love him...even if he says he doesn't care about Fathers' Day!