Father’s Day -- for many reasons, Father’s Day has always been a bit of an “odd” holiday for me. Firstly, while growing up, Father’s Day was not celebrated with the same enthusiasm as Mother’s Day. This isn’t to say my father was less important than my mother; it’s just that my mother liked to celebrate more than my father. Mother’s Day was a big deal, Father’s Day was just sort of… there. Mother’s Day had flowers, chocolate candies, and fine clothing; we went out to eat. Father’s day had wallets, bad ties and cheap cologne. We ate at home.
I didn’t marry until into my thirties. From early adulthood until that time, the ongoing joke with all my single friends (which was pretty much all my friends) was that Father’s Day was the day you went to the mailbox with fear. Yes, bad joke I know. But, since we weren’t fathers ourselves, we mocked the holiday. It wasn’t until I got married that Father’s Day started to take on a new meaning.
The first Father’s Day card I received was when my wife, Heather, was pregnant with our daughter Lily. I remember talking about children with Heather on our first date. I knew I wanted to be a parent and wanted very much to have a daughter. We waited 6 years before we started our family. We even had a checklist of things to do so we would be better prepared to be parents. Funny, because I think you are never really prepared for the first child. And in no way was I prepared for my wife being diagnosed with cancer three months after Lily was born.
I have always been one to prepare for the worst and hope for the best in life. So when Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, I had think about and prepare for the worst. For me, that was losing my wife and being a single parent. This thought terrified me. It wasn’t the dirty diapers, cooking, cleaning, or laundry that scared me; these things I could handle (honestly, Lily wouldn’t be dressed nearly as well and her hair wouldn’t look as nice). It was teaching Lily to be a woman that terrified me.
That fear is actually kind of funny because I have 7 sisters and my wife has a sister. They are, and will continue to be, wonderful role models for our daughter Lily. We also have 2 cats and 2 dogs, all of which are female. It seems like I have been surrounded all my life by females, but the thought of raising Lily on my own still scares me because I don’t know how to teach her to be a woman. Silly, because I am surrounded by many great women who I can turn to for help if I need it (Who said fears were rational?).
Today, Heather is doing very well and Father’s Day has taken on a new meaning. I have come to realize that Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. But I also find myself thinking about what if… what it could have been like if I ended up being a single father. How my life could have been different if Heather would have lost her battle with cancer. So on this Father’s Day I want to say thank you to my wife, daughter and family for helping me become the father I am today.