“A father acts on behalf of his children by working, providing, intervening, struggling, and suffering for them. In so doing, he really stands in their place. He is not an isolated individual, but incorporates the selves of several people in his own self.”
Happy Father’s Day!
Or am I even allowed to say that in this age of “toxic masculinity”? Or how do I say it when I no longer have a father, grandfather, on this earth?
I may not have a natural father still living, but I have many father figures. Some are older, many are much younger, most are dead and gone, but all of them have one thing in common: as long as a man’s stories are remembered, he is immortal. These are men that find it much more profitable to ignore the constant drumbeat of the media telling them that their lives no longer matter and go on doing the things that DO matter.
I work with these men, ride with these men, read the words of these men. Men like Ben, putting the needs of his autistic son before his own, like my man Ken, raising a daughter in a world that is becoming more racially divided instead of less so. Men like Nathan, and watching him raisie four wonderful kids from cute little meerkats to caring, steadfast members of society. Like mi hermano Manuel, who as testosterone-laden as he is, can’t even talk about his ninos without misting up. My friend Scott, dealing with the physical seperation from his own grandkids back home; I stress “physical” as I know the mental and spiritual connection is still there.
Like my own son Zach, who’s cool head and bike handling skills saved my own life, and now has a son of his own, the Jude Bear. I don’t envy any of these father’s the current task of navigating the crashing currents of public opinion, but I am very confident of one thing: they will continue to do what dad’s have always done, the hard things.
Have you ever wondered why “dad jokes” are a thing? Could it be that it’s a natural reaction to being relegated to a role that has been reduced to that of a punching bag in a sitcom? Of being pulled in two opposing directions, of being told repeatedly that they’re responsible for all of society’s ills while still knowing inside that they ARE responsible for protecting and providing for their families? Don’t get me wrong; dad jokes are awesome, especially when they can make your kid’s eyes roll like the apples on a slot machine, but dad’s bring so much more to the table than occasional comic relief.
And now, I’m a grandfather, and trying to find my own way. I’m a slow learner, but I have discovered one bit of knowledge to ease the transition to grandad, or even new dad, for that matter: everything that Mom says to Jude, I imagine that she’s saying to me, and in the same tone of voice. Yeah, I get that it’s weird on some sort of Freudian level, but whatever gets you through the day is what I say.
Last December, I bought the yet-unborn Jude Bear a pocketknife for Christmas, as there is swiftly coming a day when pocket knives are no longer accepted as what they are, a symbol as much as a tool. A symbol of dad’s everywhere and their willingness to tackle life’s most serious problems head on, armed only with a Buck folder with Micarta scales, because that’s how we roll.
Or so we like to believe.
Happy Father’s Day, dad.