A father: Is it always a man and “his” child or children?

It’s June 16, 2018, the day before Father’s Day. I just finished some reading, but while I was doing so, I sensed my mind wandering off into the topic of fatherhood. We all know that words have many meanings. One of the more basic meanings for the word father, I just Googled is: A man in relationship with his child or children. I was struck not only by the sheer economy of phraseology used in this definition, but also by what seemed to me the objectivity of it. There’s no qualitative measure assigned to it. It simply states a man is in relationship with his child or children. We all know something else, don’t we? There are excellent fathers, good fathers, all the way to men who one wonders why they were  blessed with the ability “sire” (not father) a child?

Let me return to the statement about my mind wandering. My mind was wandering because of my situation. Somewhere amongst the journaling, blogging and other chronicling of my thoughts, I’ve mentioned that my dad died from a terrible accident when I was eight-years old. I have also mentioned that I remember very little, first-hand, about him. The fact that I don’t remember him is something that emerges from all my thoughts about fatherhood every year about this time. Often, I feel it would be somewhat liberating if I remembered something, be it good or bad. I now wonder was there a relationship between my father and me? There must have been. He was in the home. He provided for us, and my mom has never spoken in terms that were derogatory about him in any way.

I’m the oldest sibling in my family. This carries with it, not only a position, but also an unofficial role and responsibility, at least it’s been my experience that many oldest siblings think so. We’re the one child in the family who provides extended protection to the younger ones and explains things about the world in which they have been deposited. Oftentimes, I think it’s something parents do to make us feel we’re making a major contribution to the good of the order. If being the oldest child came with an assigned job description, I would say I have failed miserably with sharing information to the ones who came after me about our father.  Unless someone reading this thinks I’m being disrespectful, I’m not in the least bit. The facts are the facts, at least as I perceive them.

Tomorrow, I ‘ll sit in church listening to a sermon about fatherhood. I have no idea from where in God’s book the text will come, or how the minister will frame it, but I’m sure it will be appropriate for the occasion. As I sit and meditate on what’s being delivered to me and the rest of the congregation, I’ll think about my dad, and how I’m blessed to have had him. There are many kids who have never been granted the blessing of knowing the legacy of a father, a biological father. I’m happy also to say that I’m glad to have been blessed with a maternal grandfather, who loved and cherished me and taught me lessons about fatherhood that have passed the test of time. My relationship with him answered the question: A father isn’t always a man and the relationship with his child or his children.

To all fathers biological, adoptive, uncles who take on the job, much older brothers, whatever: Happy Father’s Day in this the year of our Lord 2018.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

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