I spent Father’s Day alone this year. In fact, I tend to do so every time the celebration of fathers comes around. Sure, I send out cards to other fathers to encourage and affirm them and the things they do for their own children. And it doesn’t matter whether these brothers are biological or surrogate fathers. It’s still important to let them hear from others that what they do matters — that their efforts are important.
Of course, my children and my grandsons sent cards and called me as well, expressing their love and gratitude. Their words were sorely needed because Father’s Day actually puts me in a kind of funk — a temporary state of depression that I just cannot seem to shake.
Why? I guess it’s due to the fact that my father died right after I had finished my undergraduate studies and secured my first job — a great position with Fortune 500 leader IBM. My dad had been like the family patriarch — everyone came to him for assistance and advice. But he was much more to me. He was calm in the midst of the storm. He was the way out, the way over, the way under and the way through, no matter what problems or challenges came my way.
He was that bellowing, deep voice that reassured me, letting me know that he was on the job.
So, when he suddenly became ill, it never occurred to me that he would die. Perhaps I was too naïve to pay attention to what his doctors were saying. Still, neither my mother or my sister indicated that things were that serious. Actually, we never even spoke on it. Meanwhile, I was enjoying the freedom of living in my own apartment and having the finances to shop, travel, dine out and date eligible sisters as I desired.
Life was great. I had dreams of hanging out with my father and enjoying those man-to-man conversations that we would have from time to time. He would share his stories about growing up in rural Alabama and how he’d been confronted with racism. He would talk about being a Black man in a country that still had not totally accepted us as equals. And he would tell me that it was important for me to be grateful for the gifts God had given me and to use them for good — for the good of our family and for the Black community. He even encouraged me to consider leaving corporate America and to turn my attentions to writing — something that I had done since the third grade.
There are those moments, those days, when I suddenly become overwhelmed with grief and the floodgates open. Father’s Day is one of those days. It’s not that I’m feeling sorry for myself. That’s not why I tend to spend the day alone. The truth of the matter is, even 33 years after his death, I really miss my Daddy — a lot. And no matter what I do, I simply cannot fill the hole that was made when he left this earth. But then, I shake myself, dry my tears and tell the old man that he was the best.
Happy Father’s Day, Big Mac! I miss you much!