An Ode to Fathers: When there’s no Hallmark card to say how you feel.

An Ode to Fathers - Horse by Jennifer Mack

Fathers: A story about what they mean to me.

My take on Father’s Day is a little different from the traditional Hallmark card.   I have two fathers, the one who raised me and the other one.  I don’t know very much about my biological father except what’s written in the Ville Marie Social Service Centre letter:

“Her father  was 5’9″ with an approximate weight. He was blonde blue-eyed with a fair complexion. His interests included horses and painting.  He had a university degree.  His personality is described as normal!”

Exclamation point.

Thank god for normal.

Normal in this case probably means what was expected of a man at that time.  I suspect it’s not much different from what’s expected of a man today except for our openness to allow them to wear pink shirts in public.  But I digress.

My real (adopted) father is generous, loving, giving, hard-working, and stubborn.   For the 15 years I’ve lived away from Montréal  I’ve heard the words, “It would be nice if you called more often.” For those 15 years I’ve tried to make peace with often being the source of his disappointment.   Makes it harder to deal with when piled on top of trying to forget the previous years when I heard, “It would be nice if you talked more often.”

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Phones blow. I’m an introvert. 

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What he doesn’t realize is that I hate phones and I don’t talk to anyone else on them either.  I call him though because it makes him happy, which makes me happy.

Fathers now also come in the form of good friends.  They even let me babysit their children when desperation calls.  (What could go wrong with two boys under the age of 5, an unsuspecting victim with cupcake mix, and a jar of sprinkles?)  It’s refreshing to see them learn how to relate to their kids along the way, to hear them admit they don’t have all the answers, and to watch them honestly pour a stiff drink after a marathon day at work followed by a marathon night of trying to put the hellions to bed.

The point I’m making is that on a day like Father’s Day I find it hard to celebrate fathers in the Hallmark sort of way.  Fathers leave you, inspire you, hurt you, teach you, ignore you, care for you, and love you. They’re so much more complex and compelling and insecure and brave and damaged and hurtful and wonderful than any card or a cookie-cutter Instagram post can express.   Mari Andrews’ Father’s Day Instagram post was one exception.  They make me to doubt my decision to never have children then make me grateful that I don’t have any (see previous comment about the stiff drink).  They make me grateful for the times I spend drawing and Lightsaber sword fighting with their kids.   Most importantly, they’ve taught me about true courage, vulnerability, and unconditional love.

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Fathers: may we support them, may we forgive them, may we love them.

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For the record: I love horses and painting. 

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*The stubbornness trait rubbed off; my father and I once went three months without talking while living under the same roof.  I can’t remember what the argument was about.

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