Most people associate the month of June as a time to celebrate fathers. There was a time when I didn’t particularly care about Father’s day because I didn’t always have a close relationship with my father. My parents divorced when I was around 7 years old. At the time, I didn’t understand what was going on. I just knew that every other Saturday my Dad would pick up me and my siblings and take us to Hockey games or other fun places.
During my high school years, the visits with my Dad became less frequent. I only saw him every now and then. When I was a senior, I was ecstatic that my Dad let me drive his silver corvette to school one day (after I pleaded with him and swore that I would not let anything happen to it). You can imagine that my heart sank in my stomach when someone at the high school keyed the entire passenger side of that car! When I ﬁnally worked up the nerves to tell him, I was totally shocked that he did not yell or scream at me (but I’m sure he was cussing up a storm inside his head).
When I was in college, my Dad was like a stranger to me. I felt like he was never there for me when I needed him. Every time I called him to ask for money, his response was the same. He didn’t have any. On one occasion, out of anger, I told him that he would have money if he didn’t spend it all on stuff he did not need! My Dad always had the latest gadgets and electronics, from coffee makers and turkey fryers to TVs and computers. He was a Jack of all trades and, according to him, a master of several things. After being laid off from the City of Dallas, he started a home repair business. It was a successful business because word-of-mouth from current and previous customers always kept him busy.
After my sophomore year in college, I decided to live with my dad. I primarily did this because I wanted us to get to know each other. The ﬁrst couple of weeks after I moved in were awkward. We didn’t know what to say to each other. We lived separate lives in the same house. It seemed to me that I could do anything I wanted and he wouldn’t care. So I did.
After making a couple of immature choices, I inadvertently received my Dad’s attention. I soon realized that he did care. He told me some tough things that I needed to hear. Although I was technically grown, I needed for him to be my parent…my father. After that initial tough love talk, we started to converse more. We began to bond.
We not only got to know each other, but we also began to understand each other. I learned that my Dad was simply being the kind of father that he was exposed to when he was growing up. That is all he knew. Needless to say, over the next several years, my Dad and I became very close. I became a Daddy’s Girl. We talked on the phone several times a week. My Daddy became my best friend.
In May of 2012, my siblings and I were standing at the edge of our Dad’s bed. He was on hospice. One of the last things he said to us was, “I did the best that I could.” He also apologized for anything he said or did that was hurtful to us. A couple of days later, he received his heavenly wings after succumbing to cancer and kidney failure. I felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest.
After my Daddy’s memorial service, I had ﬂashbacks of every moment we spent together. I realized that my Daddy had always loved me. And because he loved me, the self-esteem issues that I struggled with throughout my life signiﬁcantly decreased. Because my Daddy loved me, I no longer had to search for love and acceptance from the wrong people. Because my Daddy loved me, I learned what it means to receive love and to give it back. Because my Daddy loved me, I am able to freely and fully love my husband (who is now my Best Friend and the Love of my Life). Because my Daddy loved me, I am a better me!
My friends, if your father is alive, reach out to him and show him some love. If you are estranged from him or angry with him, try to ﬁ nd it in your heart to forgive him. Ask yourself if what he did or said is more important than him. Pray for him and with him. Fatherhood did not come with an instruction manual so try not to hold it against him if he doesn’t get it right. Life is short. Cherish every moment with your father. Make new memories with him. Although Father’s Day comes around once a year, I will forever celebrate my Daddy and the moments we shared together!
Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dads out there!
[Karen E. Hopkins is a Corporate Project Manager in the Dallas, TX area. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Master’s degree in Management from Dallas Baptist University
(Dallas, TX). She is a former church choir director and works in various church ministries that serve women, teens and young children.]