Author Harlan Coben by KoS

“This is the price you pay for having a great father. You get the wonder, the joy, the tender moments – and you get the tears at the end, too.”

When I was younger, I connected much more strongly with my dad than I did with my mom. It’s not like we had any common interests, really. He was in the restaurant business by trade and he enjoyed spending time at the horse track. I was a kid. I watched cartoons and played video games. I’m not really sure what it was. And today, being Father’s Day, I can’t help but to reflect on our relationship.

The quote above from American mystery novel author Harlan Coben is particularly poignant for me today. Last year was my first Father’s Day as a father myself. The whole family got together and we enjoyed a great home-cooked meal. It was great and everyone had a great time.

But this year is the first Father’s Day for me without my dad. Coben is right. The price you pay for love — and I loved my dad dearly for everything that he did for our family over all those years — is the pain of loss when it’s time for them to go. And because of the timing of it all, Father’s Day will always be bittersweet for me. I’m proud to be a dad, but Father’s Day serves as a reminder that I miss my dad.

I don’t view myself as any sort of “champion” for the modern dad identity. Sure, my approach to fatherhood has been distinctly different from the approach my dad took, but it’s a different time, a different culture, and a different set of circumstances. He worked with what he had and I think my brother and I turned out alright.

“I think my mom put it best. She said, ‘Little girls soften their daddy’s hearts.'”

Those words were uttered by the late Paul Walker. Since my daughter arrived almost two years ago (how the time flies!), my perspective on life and the world has changed dramatically. I’ve become much more cognizant of gender issues and I’ve really internalized this sense that it’s not about me. She teaches me to focus on the good things. She shows me that it’s okay to be silly and that work can wait.

Celebrate the joys and wonders with the dad(s) in your life. Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened. Happy Father’s Day.

Image credit: KoS (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons