This will be my fourth Father’s Day without contact from my children. Of any kind.
1,104 days. 26,496 minutes. 1,589,760 seconds…
Despite myriad pleas of forgiveness. Estranged.
John Irving in A Prayer For Owen Meany says American people reserve their moral condemnation for sexual misconduct. He goes on to say, “Boudoir morality takes little imagination, and can be indulged in without the effort of bothering to know ‘the whole story’ behind the sexual adventure.”
Over the past three years I have met other fathers (good fathers—not perfect—but good fathers, who for various reasons were unable to maintain a lifelong relationship with the mother of their children) who suffer the same fate. Estrangement by their children. And their grandchildren used as pawns.
Many “christian” friends from my past have told me I’m getting what I deserve.
You know, they may be right.
Ironically, I’ve also met several children now grown who love and have forgiven their fathers unconditionally despite suffering heinous mistreatment at their hands: horrible physical abuse, lifelong mental abuse, rape, incest, abandonment, and yes, even worse. Unfathomable.
P.S. I have been silent about details of my family life, especially the estrangement from my children, due to the wisdom and advice of my wife Gina. But as I type these words, I am alone.
She got up at 3am and drove for twelve hours to Florida yesterday to surprise her eighty-nine-year-old Dad for Father’s Day. When she walked in beaming from ear to ear, he collapsed in tears of joy. Beautiful.
It’s not that they have been exempt from times of extreme difficulty. They’ve had more than their fair share. But somehow they have chosen to love each other unconditionally.
I’m also the benefactor of that remarkable father-daughter relationship, because the functional and unconditional love her Dad has shown throughout life enables Gina to provide that same gift of unconditional love to me.
My therapist says I’m getting what I deserve.
You know, he may be right.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST. I have been very prolific in writing about the love my Dad and I share. You can read a few of those HERE and HERE and HERE. And I would be remiss if I did not once again use this platform to wish my Dad a Happy Father’s Day.
Believe me, we’ve had our moments as well. I have broken his heart more than once and disappointed him with my actions. Dad is a very religious man with strong convictions about lifelong marriage, but somehow he continues to love me as only a good (not perfect, but good) father can.
And my girls have been the benefactor of that same unconditional love. Not perfect love, but functional and unconditional love. Dad has provided a heritage that will live on in me, my children and grandchildren. No matter what.
The Hebrew Bible says to honor your father and mother and your days will be long on this earth.
You know, it may be right.