The Father’s Day Alternative

Today is a bittersweet day for my children. When my husband R is home, we celebrate. Movies, McDonalds, ice cream. When my husband R is not home, which is more often than not, we move about slowly, numbly. We avoid parks where dads and kids are walking hand in hand. We avoid stores where the word DAD is plastered all over every aisle.

World’s best dad is the world’s best husband. World’s best dad has obligations. World’s best dad lives three timezones away.

As I sit at the table watching the kids eat breakfast (I know, I should put this iPad away but we won’t be home for a while), the kids avoid eye contact with the elephant in the middle of the room. Daddy is not here.

My own father died when A was a year old. He was retired, taking a few months here and there to travel out to wherever we were stationed to help me raise the kids, keep the house together, and just play with his only grandchildren. He died suddenly several days after flying back home to California. I think he knew his time was almost up. I think he wanted to spend this time with his grandchildren.

You know that Friends episode where Rachel is teaching Joey how to sail a boat and all of a sudden she explodes? She says, “Wow. I spent so much time trying not to grow up to be my mom that I turned into my dad.”

Yup, that would be me too. I embrace the good qualities and really try my ass off to avoid the bad ones. But today isn’t about me.

It is about these three sitting in front of me now, teasing each other, asking about what we are going to do today. Each thinking about Daddy in their minds.

Yesterday I suggested we go to the movies, something Daddy would have done for them if he were here.

Our son M exploded. “We can’t celebrate without Daddy!”

I put that topic to rest.

So our day remains unplanned. I will take the queues from the kids like I do so well after years of practice.

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Father’s Day 2010. R was still in a wheelchair. We spent every weekend at the VA Palo Alto. Happy Father’s Day!

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