We had brunch at my mom’s house this morning to celebrate Father’s Day…even though only three of the six dads in our family were able to make it. Sometimes I think the girls in the family just create reasons to “celebrate” so that we can get together and talk about “the hills” and what not.
I got to thinking though…when I was in high school I refused to celebrate Father’s Day. For me it represented what I no longer had.
I would see commercials weeks in advance advising children and wives on what kinds of gifts they could purchase for the man in their family to show him how appreciated he was. It would annoy me to no end…don’t they KNOW we don’t all have dads around here!?!? Don’t they REALIZE that SOME people’s Dads die and these commercials can be very HURTFUL.
I was a little bitter.
My Mom was a strong example for us. Self pity and wallowing and feeling sorry for yourself are not part of her livelihood. You must continue to live. You must look around you and appreciate what is still here. I watched her do it.
She loves my Dad desperately, but fell in love again…and she loved desperately again. It IS possible…she lives it.
Unfortunately, in all my teenage angst and hard headedness, I did not allow myself to move on so easily. On the anniversary of my Dad’s death every year I wanted to feel sad. I wanted people to know that I was sad because I was missing my Dad that day and that it wasn’t fair. I wanted them to see how much I loved him by showing them how much I missed him.
And then my mom’s second love, my step-dad of 7 years, died of cancer. Yes. It happened again. We were devastated. Again. My Mom grieved…we all did…we still do…but the sun keeps shining. The world keeps moving. People keep going. As much as you’d like to crawl into a hole and eat chocolate and watch sad movies and stay devastated, you just can’t.
I remember watching a Dr. Phil show once where he was talking to a woman who could not move past the death of a loved one. He said some memorable things to me that day…I had my “aha” moment (thank you Oprah). He said the amount of tears you cry and the hurt you hang on to does not reflect how much you loved that person. It’s ok to be happy. They WANT you to be happy and just because you are still sad and crying everyday, does not mean you loved that person any more than someone who was able to be happy again.
This was groundbreaking for me because until that moment I thought by putting my suffering on the table for everyone to see was a.) teaching people about my Dad and b.) proof of how much I loved him. But I was wrong. People around me were happy and they had loved him longer and harder than I had. You must move forward and that doesn’t have to mean you’re no longer affected.
Just because my Mom was able to move forward and re-marry by no means meant that she was now over it or had “closure”…there really is no getting over a death like that. It means she got used to the missing and she allowed herself to love again.
This Father’s Day I’m surrounded by great Dads. My mom remarried years ago and I couldn’t ask for a better Grandpa for my kids.
My step dad, my husband, my brother and my brother in laws are shining examples of what a Dad should be and I’m forever appreciative and grateful to have them in my life.
Happy Father’s Day.