Thursday, 18 June 2015

I Hate Father's Day

I don't normally begrudge my fellow human beings their loved ones. But, then, I don't normally have my missing family member shoved in my face either.
My dad died when I was eleven. So, for 24 years now I have not had a father to celebrate. You'd think I'd be used to it by now...

I don't have any grandfathers to celebrate either. My paternal grandpa passed long before I was born. My maternal grandfather died when I was eight and I never met the man who was biologically my maternal grandfather (who died in 1994 anyway).

It's not that I'm unappreciative of the fact that other people have fathers whom they love and wish to honour [they do! and they should!] It's not that I want to take a holiday away from anyone. I don't want people to boycott or disallow celebrations or to be a Father's Day Scrooge*... But I have to say -- when you don't have a father to celebrate and your husband is not a father yet, Father's Day sucks.

It's not that it's just one day. I could probably handle one day.** It's the month-long lead-up to Father's Day which starts immediately after Mother's Day. Tell us how special your dad is! Take a photo of the fun activities you like to do with your dad! Why do you love your dad? Make your dinner reservations for Father's Day now! Blah blah blah. It's like society rubbing salt in a wound.
Perhaps I'm over-sensitive because June just happens to be an extra sh!tty month for my family where Dad is concerned. Not only does Father's Day occur in June but so does the date of my Dad's birth (June 11th). As does the date of his death (June 23rd). Reminder after reminder after reminder that my Dad is not here, that my dad is gone, that my dad is missing, that other people get to celebrate and love their fathers on a special day (and every day, frankly), that other people didn't miss out on having their dad there while they grew up and hit milestones, graduated and got married...

After Dad died and we'd moved off the farm to be nearer to my mom's family, the first Father's Day my mom spent away from my brother and I sticks out in my mind. Thoughtful, loving, caring Family friends invited Brother and I over for dinner that night so we wouldn't be alone. I was and still am touched that they thought to do such a thing for us. But it was awkward. It was awful. I felt like we were stealing the proverbial thunder of the father in our presence. I wish we'd just stayed home. I don't recall any of the specifics - just the pervasive yucky feeling of the experience. And that I hadn't expected to feel that way.

Similarly, my in-laws used to just assume I'd be okay going out to dinner with them and their extended family on Father's Day. It was nice of them to wish to include me but there was an absence of thought that, maybe, just maybe I would prefer NOT to go, which I resented. After Hubby's own father died, he unfortunately started to understand where I was coming from.

It's like when you happily attend a wedding and - oh boy! - here comes the Father-Daughter dance! You're supposed to think oh!, isn't it so touching?! when all you can think is "Why did that asshat get to live to dance with his daughter and my wonderful father didn't??" It's awful and uncharitable but it's a feeling and feelings can't be helped; feelings just are.

So... Sorry. I don't want to be included in someone else's celebration.  I'm happy that you have a dad and that you love him - but your dad is not my dad. I don't want to make a special effort to acknowledge your dad. My special day to acknowledge your dad, should I choose to do so, is called his BIRTHDAY.

I tried to come up with some happy Father's Day memories to share instead of this Post of Gloom and Negativity but I don't really recall how we used to celebrate Father's Day -- which is to say that I don't recall one in particular, except the one I've already mentioned. I imagine we celebrated much like we did for birthdays... perhaps breakfast in bed made haphazardly by us enthusiastic but domestically-challenged kids... There likely would have been gifts presented to him after his specially requested dinner (likely pork chops and potato puffs) was made and served by mom... chocolate cake (anything sweet!) served for dessert. I doubt there would have been any special activities... maybe fishing. We were out in the country where feeding the cows and avoiding gopher holes was as close to golf as we got -- and I kinda doubt my dad would have been into golf anyway. He was into horses and cowboy stuff, camping and the outdoors, building and fixing things... He was rugged. To think of him swinging a silver stick at a tiny ball on serenely coiffed grass is just wrong.
THE scene from the 1982 movie The Man From Snowy River, a western set in Australia circa 1880, starring Canadian Tom Burlinson. I was very young when we saw this film on VHS in our farmhouse living room but I still remember my cowboy Dad whooping at this scene. #MovieAddict #ThisIsMyDad
I do remember the first time Dad's birthday came along after he died. My brother, who was eight at the time, insisted we have a cake with candles in Dad's honour. This made me extremely uncomfortable and I hated it with a passion. It felt stupid and unnatural. But mom explained it was important to Brother and I was made to suffer through singing Happy Birthday. Yeah, it was really happy. I don't recall who blew out the candles. Thankfully, we were not at home but in a neighbour's kitchen. But we're talking about Father's Day, not birthdays... Suffice to say, it doesn't feel right to write a tribute to my Dad in a Father's Day post when I don't have any particular (good) memories about that day and another feeling casts such a predominant shadow. Surely, the day to sing his praises would be his birthday anyway. And a summary of his life on the anniversary of his death...

To be honest, I've had most of this post written for some time but it has remained incomplete amongst the rest of my many unpublished, half-finished articles. I've struggled with publishing the privacy of my feelings which the general population doesn't seem to share. I am still struggling with spreading the gloom... Or maybe giving in to my own is more accurate at this point. I don't like to be negative.*** I prefer to find a silver lining... to suss out whatever is good about a situation or person... to come up with positive spin and work that angle... to spread love, light, goodness, kindness, happiness, optimism and good karma [*barf* ...but true]. I consider it a challenge and I don't like "failing" at it. I should be able to provide some kind of constructive suggestion instead of being cynical, defeatist and pessimistic. But I don't really have a Polly-Anna for this particular instance... The closest I've come is proclaiming June to be, henceforth, My Daddy's Month of Super Powers. Surely, he must be up there wielding his mighty lasso of superpowers (a la Indiana Jones) to bring us goodness [and special treats? I dunno...] in this particularly unpleasant segment of the year that excludes yet simultaneously exudes his presence!...?

I want to say I miss my dad. And I do. But it doesn't feel exactly right to say that either. Because I never truly knew him, not as a person. I knew him as infallible. I knew him as my protector. I knew him in 2D. [He would have LOVED Jurassic World, btw, and the cowboy-esque character Chris Pratt plays].**** I miss what I remember having a dad in my life felt like. But at the same time, I can't translate that into my life as it is now -- I don't know what it would feel like, as an adult, to have a father in my life. So I can't say I miss it. I miss what little of his personality I do remember. I mostly miss that I didn't get the opportunity to know him better, to have him present in my life.

So it's not that I go through every day of my life thinking about the loss of my Dad. I don't. I am aware of it in general and of how not having an adult male figure in my life has likely affected me overall -- just not pointedly, on a daily basis. Father's Day, lately, seems to be a day to feel sorry for myself and to mourn and lament what is "missing" from my life -- and I really hate that. I would not be who I am today if my dad hadn't been who he was while he was here and if he hadn't passed -- and, while I would love for him to still be here with us, my life would be utterly, totally and completely different. I likely would be just like most of you - unaware that this is even an issue for some people.


It was Laura Hedgecock's post "What's Your Father's Day Story?" (published on my dad's birthday, I shall point out) that pushed me to click the Publish button on this post. Not everyone has the same, happy story; all of them should be recorded. And, further, to quote Ron Perlman (of Beauty and the Beast, Sons of Anarchy and Hellboy fame): "The reason we're here is to talk about what we did... no matter what it is I'm going through, I'm not the first one, and I'm not gonna be the last".

I hope this post, my feelings, my experience resonates with others who have similar stories. I hope it spreads awareness that Father's Day, for me and many others, is kinda like Valentine's Day when you're single and don't want to be. Oh, it's going to be such a special day with your sweetheart and, oh, you can show this person how much you love them and how much they mean to you! And, oh, you're going to have such a good time and you will make memories and blah blah blah. Shut the eff up already! I don't have a Valentine!








Yes, The Asterisks Mean Something


* I've tried making lemonade out of lemons but this just doesn't feel right:

It feels like an injustice or even blasphemy to celebrate my mom instead when my dad was a good dad for the time he was here. Likewise, it just doesn't feel right (or good) to make a point of celebrating and remembering a guy who's not here anymore on a specific day when everyone else's IS. There's a hole in that theory. It's a missing person. It amplifies the loss, not the person. And it's the person who should be raised up on their special day.


** Hell, let's be real. I can handle it all. I'm just venting. And recording another viewpoint for posterity and my own family history.


*** I definitely don't always succeed at avoiding negativity!! But I try, at least, to say nothing if it can't be nice. Especially on the internet. Where, without a second thought, everyone complains publicly about whatever is bothering them -- bad service, some annoying colleague or schoolmate, a Kardashian or some seemingly arbitrary decision to cast Ben Affleck as Batman [I think he's a solid actor who will pull it off just fine, btw]. CHOOSE NOT TO SPREAD HATE & NEGATIVITY, PEOPLE!! C'mon!!


















**** Jurassic World... which we saw in 3D [there's the thought connection that may have seemed missing above...lol] We saw it on Dad's birthday, too, now that I think about it. Funny how seemingly unconnected things fall into place serendipitously and you realize they were connected all along...




References

Perlman, Ron. Easy Street (the Hard Way): A Memoir (Boston, USA: Da Capo Press, 2014), p120.

Buy it on Amazon, HERE!























1 comment:

This is where I beg for your thoughts, comments, questions and observations and you type them out.