June 15, 2007

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Father’s Day should be any day he wants

Cynthia DewesI feel sorry for Father’s Day.

It seems to come as an afterthought to Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, graduations, weddings and all those other spring/early summer events we see on the June calendar. Even going on vacation early may eclipse its priority as a day to celebrate.

This is too bad because without fathers there would be no mothers, graduations, weddings or perhaps even Memorial Day.

Of course, there wouldn’t be wars either because women tend to cooperate to get what they want rather than to beat their opponents into submission. But I digress.

Fathers are a biological entity to begin with. They share the divine power to create life almost as long as they live, and to produce great numbers of children. They are generally larger, stronger and more dominant presences on the human scene. They can talk loudly, too.

The ideal for fathers is, of course, God, who is father/mother of us all. That’s an intimidating ideal to live up to, but most fathers do their best. I always say if we’ve been blessed with having a good father, we can better appreciate the loving parenthood of God.

Fathers may be drawn to fatherhood by biological impulse, but real fathers extend their responsibility to nurturing, raising and generally caring for their own children—and sometimes the children of others. They mentor nephews and nieces, students, sports teams, neighbor kids and many other youthful protégés. They are providers and protectors.

Fathers also serve as providers and protectors for their wives, whom they’ve cheerfully assisted to be mothers. In this modern age, it may not be fashionable to say, but real fathers do provide and do protect their families physically, emotionally and spiritually.

They do the same in honoring their aging parents, in helping the poor or in producing quality work. We depend upon them as Jesus and Mary depended upon Joseph.

Some fathers play golf, some play basketball long after they should’ve given it up, and some watch wrestling on television. Some are athletic and some just like to follow sports vicariously, some are intellectual and some tinker with tools. Some dads play catch with their kids, some teach them to drive, and some go on scouting campouts with them even when they dislike bugs and sleeping on the ground.

Fathers are talented in many ways. Some speak several languages or understand the theory of relativity. Some write poetry or carve lovely things from wood, while others grow lush vegetable gardens and know the name of every bird they see. Some collect antiques or do model railroading or build houses with Habitat for Humanity.

Some fathers are spiritual Fathers who guide their religious flocks with the same loving care as that of natural fathers. Some are fathers of dioceses or monasteries or movements for world peace. Some are fathers of their countries.

Some fathers are handsome, tall, fit or well-coordinated, while others are short, swarthy, chubby klutzes. Some chatter constantly, while others speak so seldom that “when Dad talks, everybody listens.” Some are friendly and others are reserved.

They may be called Dad, Pop, Papa, Pa, Daddy or Hey, and will answer to any of them.

Real fathers teach their sons to be good men and teach their daughters how to relate to the opposite sex in a healthy way.

This weekend, we honor fathers who merit that title. God bless them all.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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