When Cape Buffalo Kara came up for air following her school's commencement, she once again tapped her Internet friends, suggesting we honor fathers as we honored mothers in May. Given that June had fallen quickly upon many of us, the two week mother spread was quickly transformed into "five days for fathers." Our lives being in transition as they are, my five days have dwindled to, well, none! But it feels very appropriate that I honor my father on THE day, as I want to write about the special way that he is honoring another father this year on Father's Day.
Whether a God-given gift, a consequence of a life with some significant losses, an occupational hazard (He is a life-long pastor, and carries this persona with him whether actively serving a church or not.), or some rich combination of all of these, my father is incredibly empathic to people who have experienced loss. When other people flee with fear and discomfort in the face of tragedy and grief, my father rushes in. He somehow always seems to find words that soothe, and it is rare that I meet someone who has known my dad without their mentioning some particularly painful time in life when he was present with him or her.
I received an email message this week from my dad sharing that a very young father who lived down the block died suddenly, without warning. The family numbly set about the tasks of planning for a memorial, and when my father visited with them after he heard the news, they asked if he might consider giving up his Father's Day to preside over the funeral. They needn't have asked--I'm certain my dad's mind was made up before the words were even spoken. He is simply that generous. Materially, he has little, and while he gives away most everything he has, it is this gift of presence--this spiritual gift--that matters most to people.
It is a slightly different manifestation of the same gift I received on afternoons after school when we squared off over a chess board, or when he helped me warm my arm for my very brief softball career. While I obviously learned the importance of being present from those moments when he was for me, I am particularly proud of all I learned from watching from afar as he was present for others. I look at my sister and me--our friendships, our commitments, our passion for justice, and our concern for others, particularly in those moments when others might shy away--and I know we gleaned this from our father. We are good people....on our best of days, I feel we are exceptional people....and I know there was a powerful combination of good that emerged from our parents' partnership in raising us. I have had many occasions in writing this blog to express thanks to my mother. How important it is to have this occasion to say thank you to my father.
We love you. Happy Father's Day, Dad.