Father's Day without a Dad

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Fatherhood topics and Single Parent Advice on Singledad.com. Guest contributor, DA Wolf Shares her memories of her Father and the importance of recognizing forgiveness in a Father & Daughter Relationship.

My dad wasn’t around much when I was growing up. It was the 1960s and early 70s, and frankly, it wasn’t that unusual. When he was home, my mother was generally in the kitchen, while he parked himself in an arm chair in front of the console television. He would watch the Red Sox, the Patriots, or a golf tournament depending on the season. Sometimes, he would simultaneously listen to the play-by-play, holding a transistor radio to his ear. When he wasn’t engrossed in a game or match, he had his nose in the newspaper. Yes, the sports pages.

As a child, it felt like he was tuning us out. I know now that he was tuning out his life with my mother, but it seemed like he was tuning me out as well, by default. And it hurt.

Yet what I remember most about my dad is his smile, his stories on the occasions he was around and feeling gregarious, the laugh lines that etched his perpetually tanned face. He was a man who took great joy in life, despite a disappointing marriage.

That marriage, always contentious, ended after three decades. My father remarried immediately – a woman with whom he’d been involved for years, as it turns out. My mother was understandably bitter. But all I knew was that seeing my father in his new life I felt a surge of hopefulness. I was single and in my twenties. My dad was in his mid-fifties; my soon-to-be stepmother, slightly younger.

I attended their wedding, which my mother never forgave and I never regretted. My father was glowing, as was his bride, who was everything my mother was not – affectionate and nonjudgmental, passionate about sports like my dad, and wickedly funny.

They held hands. They teased. They couldn’t stop grinning. I remember thinking: This is what it is like to love, to really love.

Once remarried, my father went out of his way to get to know me. I was an adult by then, but for the first time I felt the depth of his capacity to give. I understood that in the years I thought he was oblivious to me, he’d been watching quietly, proudly, and was fully aware of my achievements. He was finally happy, and consequently, able to express his feelings. Those days with him and my step-mother were very, very sweet.

Three years later, my father died in a car accident. I railed against the unfairness of it – he was still young and in perfect health. In an instant, he was no longer there. For the woman he’d loved so long. For me, as a compassionate parent. He wouldn’t be there to walk me down the aisle a few years later, or to enjoy the birth of his grandsons, one of whom bears his name and resembles him so strongly that at moments, I am overcome with the sensation of having both my son and my father present.

Ironically, I last saw my dad on Father’s Day, 1987. We lunched out of town with my grandfather, who was nearing 90 at the time. I have a wonderful memory of that afternoon, and a Polaroid to commemorate it. A picture in which my dad was relaxed and beaming, with his arm around me.

I miss my father terribly, yet I am grateful that he remarried, and in so doing, was content. I am grateful for those three years we had together. I am grateful for the understanding that the relationship between ex-spouses is very different from the relationship that children are entitled to experience with each parent, individually.

When my ex remarried some years ago, despite our rancorous divorce, I never considered making my sons uncomfortable when it came to attending the wedding or seeing their dad in his new life. And I’ve never regretted that. Doesn’t every child want to see their parents happy? If not together, then apart?

My sons have been raised primarily by me, though their father is a presence in their life. They have spent as many Father’s Days with him as possible, despite the logistical challenges of their dad living in another part of the country. My elder son is overseas this summer, working. But my younger will be with his dad on Father’s Day.

Whether divorce is amicable or acrimonious, a child’s relationship with both parents is a separate issue from the parents’ relationship with each other. My Father’s Day will be fatherless, but that hasn’t been the case for my children. And I’m glad of that.

Surely a flirty French shoe designer in a past life, D. A. Wolf (a.k.a. Big Little Wolf) is a freelance writer, journalist, single parent, art collector, polyglot, traveler, and devotee of exquisite footwear & sultry lingerie. She believes we are all brimming with glorious contradictions, and capable of living fully with whatever life dishes out, and whatever we can make of it.

She currently writes essays on everything, including single parent dating, relationships, raising teens, surviving recession, sex, sexual politics, arts & entertainment, and whatever else strikes her fancy. You may read more at her Daily Plate of Crazy, join her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter @BigLittleWolf.

Richard JaramilloRichard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com,
a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children.
RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents
“Make Life Happen…Again!”

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Richard “RJ” Jaramillo, is the Founder of SingleDad.com, a website and social media resource dedicated to single parenting and specifically for the newly divorced, re-married, widowed and single Father with children. RJ is self employed, entrepreneur living in San Diego and a father of three children. The mission of SingleDad is to help the community of Single Parents “Make Life Happen…Again!”