I didn’t really realize my father’s role in my life until I was at least 22. (Sorry it took so long, Dad!) It was so everyday, so simple oftentimes, that I took it for granted. But, the everyday things matter because it’s the everyday things that mean that, all tolled, I was and am cared for every day.
Growing up, Dad would let me play at putting plastic hair clips in his hair — even though he didn’t even have a whole lot of hair to speak of.
Dad could rip off Band-Aids just right and make the world’s best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
He would take me to the library on Saturdays and go get lost in the basement while I got lost in the children’s section. When I had a sufficient stack of Wayside School and Baby-sitters Club, I would venture to the basement and find him absorbed in some ancient-looking tome, not knowing that someday I too would get absorbed in some ancient-looking tomes.
That one time I tried a team sport, I think he was at every basketball game — taking pictures, too, to document the awkward adolescent attempts at athleticism much to my chagrin.
When I would come downstairs in a prom dress or walk across a stage in cap and gown, Dad would say “I’m so proud of you.” Like a little tiny echo of Father God saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
When I have a concern with my computer or car, I know all too well that Dad will answer my text messages with a healthy balance of advice and emojis.
Now, I do realize that many, many people for many, many reasons don’t have fathers who are present like this. But, your father has probably been present at some point. I think if you think about it, there may have been some plastic hair clips or PB&Js — from a biological father or a father figure or fatherly someone.
Whether it’s easy or hard, painful or poetic, I think we can all try in some way to say this simple line, as I’ve heard a poet put it (W.S. Merwin I think): “I guess what I’m trying to say is thanks.”
Thanks for the everyday. Thanks for the mundane. Thanks for the unnoticed and unacknowledged, the forgotten and forgiven.
Thanks, fathers. Thanks.