Why Father’s Day always made me sad

Girl carrying her father's lunch pail, Omaha 1...

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I’ve read quite a few blogs over the past few days about dads.  Most of them concern happy memories of men who took fatherhood seriously, men who gladly accepted the responsibility (and joy) of being a real dad.  I guess, not having that when I was a little girl, is why Father’s Day is a holiday that’s always been surrounded by sadness for me. 

I adored my father when I was a little girl, he was everything to me.  Unfortunately, he didn’t reciprocate those feelings.  He was in and out of the home.  I never knew, when I went off to school in the morning, if he’d be there that night.  He would just run off with no notice and no explanation.  Then, one day, he’d just show up, acting like nothing had happened.  This went on for years until my parents were divorced when I was nine years old.

After the divorce, my father didn’t pay child support (this was back in the day before that was considered a crime), very rarely visited us, never remembered birthdays.  Of the few times he arranged to come visit us, he often simply wouldn’t show up…no explanations, no excuses.  There were a few times when we’d visit with him, one time I was able to bring my best friend with me.  I don’t remember much about the visit with my father, but I do remember having a good time with my friend.

In addition to being an irresponsible dad, my father was also an alcoholic and had a violent temper.  Not a particularly joyous home in which to grow up.  I was incredibly shy and insecure.  Now, as an adult, I totally understand why that was so.  Through the years, I’ve managed to overcome that paralyzing shyness, but still struggle with the insecurity on occasion.  I often don’t fully trust people and don’t really believe it when someone tells me they’ll do something.

I didn’t see my father at all, didn’t hear from him, after I turned 13.  Until I was around 30, that is.  My mom had died a few months earlier when I received a phone call from my father.  Silly me, my first thought was that he was sorry for the type of father he’d been, that we could now develop a caring relationship.  Well, not quite.  One of the first questions he asked me was if I was still fat…seriously?  After all these years that’s the best you can do?  Then he told me he never really loved my mom…you know, my mom who was the only parent who had always been there for me and who had so recently died…but that he’d always loved only me.  I told him that was fine because Mom had married a guy who loved her and treated her well, who had shown her so much of the world that she’d never had the opportunity to see.  That they had formed a blended family with my brothers and myself and his daughter and son, that we got together and did all those family things that normal people do.  He then began whining for me not to be that way, that he loved me.  Then he told me he was in a tough spot and asked if I could send him some money.  I couldn’t believe his nerve.  Here was a guy who never paid child support, who subjected his kids to a childhood of poverty, and he was asking me to send him money.  Of course, I told him I wouldn’t do it.  It didn’t take him long to end the conversation after that.

That last phone call was unbelievably painful for me.  I guess, until then, I’d always had this childish dream that my dad would come back into my life and be the dad that he should have always been.  That call put that dream to rest and caused me to grow up and take care of myself, stop waiting for my father to come back and fix things.  In that regard, perhaps he did me a favor, but it sure didn’t feel like that at the time.

I sincerely believe that every little girl (and little boy) deserves a caring, loving, responsible dad…a dad who understands what it means to be a father, who embraces that willingly no matter how difficult it may be at times.  Unfortunately there are men who, for whatever reason, are unable or unwilling to be a good dad.  It’s unfair to the child, depriving her of the love and security she deserves.  My wish for children every where is that their fathers whole heartedly embrace fatherhood, and all that it entails, and live up to their responsibilities.  Every child deserves that.

Volunteer plants in the garden

I always enjoy seeing what plants just manage to come up on their own.  Every year I have a few that somehow manage to self sow and most of them turn out to be stronger and more prolific than the plants I spend my hard-earned money on.  The other day I noticed several had popped up.

It never surprises me to see the sunflowers come up on their own.  Those crazy little birds scatter more seed than they eat, I do believe.

The cilantro has already flowered and gone to seed.  I always make sure to save the seeds for future plantings (anyone need some cilantro seeds?).

Ahh….but this is what I’m most excited about.  I noticed a couple of decent sized tomato plants coming up…I just hope one of them is a grape tomato plant.  I had one come up on its own last year and it ended up growing to over six feet in height and was simply loaded with tons of sweet little tomatoes…yum!!

One of the fun things about the volunteer tomato plants is that you don’t really know what you have until closer to harvest time, but I like surprises…most of the time…don’t you?