Father's Day has never been an easy for me. I have very few memories of my father. In fact, I am hard pressed to remember anything other than absence. Oh, I have some vague shadowy sorts of memories, but I don't even remember what he looks like unless I look for a picture, of which there are very few.
My mother and father were divorced in the mid-sixties. Long before single parent households were normative. My grandparents drove to Minnesota and loaded my mother and my siblings and I into a station wagon and drove us to Wichita, Kansas. Wichita became my new home. My grandparents were amazing human beings. They had one child, my mother and when they were seventy they brought her and her four children into their three bedroom ranch home. So much for "quiet and relaxed" retirement. We would live with them for the next five years.
The move from Minnesota and was abrupt and most everything was lost: pictures, keep sakes, almost all our toys and dishes and clothes. We moved what we could fit into that station wagon with the seven of us. I have a few things from those years, my Barbies and a small candy box my father gave from one of his trips as a salesman.
My father, for whatever reason, could not adjust. While my twin sister and younger brother and I would wait for a phone or promised visit, he didn't show. I remember him coming to see us only once and by that time a couple of years had passed and the visit was awkward and uncomfortable. He spoke to us by phone once or maybe twice and that was all.
I relate this story not for sympathy, but to share what a profound impact fathers have on their children. In spite of the fact it has been more forty years, there are still tender places around my heart. As an adult and as a pastor, I am aware that my father was obviously flawed and unable to deal with the pain of separation and divorce. Perhaps he just didn't care, but whatever the reason, his choice to be totally absent certainly affected me and if I am honest in some ways continues to affect me.
In our culture where it seems so easy to mock "dear old dad" and make fathers the butt of every joke, I am driven to say, "Fathers, don't you believe it! You are important, you make a difference and your love and your presence and your ability to be there is basic to raising a child." Father's are NOT disposable, they are NOT unimportant. Their blessing and their love and their care makes all the difference in the world.
On Father's Day, I take time to remember those men who stepped up in the absence of my father. My grandfather, my stepfather "Pep", ministers, teachers, professors who fathered and mentored me. The older I get, the more I believe we need a variety of people surrounding us and helping us become all that we were created to be. When fathers or mothers are unavailable then it is up to others to step in and help create a sacred and safe place for children to grow, to learn and become. I will forever be grateful to the community of faith, the men and the women who encouraged me and helped me along the way.
Because of them and their love and care I am
Graced to Serve,