As Father’s Day comes around again, I know it won’t only be different for us this year but it will be different for many other people as well. Whilst I used to think it was lovely to celebrate days such as Father’s Day, I now realise that these days can expose a harsh reality for some.
In the past, Father’s Days have involved comedy breakfasts created and delivered by the kids, lots of bundling and love followed by Dad being showered with gifts and cards. The day then pans out to include time spent with both our Dads which, despite the miles between us, we try our best to see them both. This year will be different. Mr Brown will wake up in hospital on Father’s Day with Felix; the rest of us will join them later. It is unlikely we will get to see our own Dad’s this year.
What has struck me most as Father’s day approaches has been how hard it must be, for other individuals and families, for so many different of reasons. Only this week we have been saddened to hear that another Dad has passed away and two have been taken seriously ill and hospitalised. There is also a Dad whose relationship with his family is changing because of dementia and another who will not wake up in the same space as his children because of divorce. There are kids who will want to see their Dads but can’t and Dads who can’t see their kids but want to. There are Dads who have never met their children and sons and daughters who have never met their dads. Life is much more diverse than the images presented to us during these celebrations days and it seems that it is more complicated for the majority of people.
We are bombarded with the Father’s Day stereotypes. The cards and gifts adorned with humour relating to golf, beer and football. The widely advertised CD compilations for Dads to drive or run or rock to. I know too many families who do not fit into this stereotype and whose Father’s Day will be very different to the ones portrayed in the media. Their day may well be filled with sadness, regret or disappointment; it is these individuals and families that I will be thinking of this year.
I will be thinking of those who may not have the opportunity to celebrate and spoil their Dad on Sunday for whatever reason. Even in our forties, there are many friends who have already lost their Dads far too soon. There are Dads who have not had the pleasure to see their grandchildren grow or watch their children become parents. There are the children and adults who lost their Dad generations ago who will be reminded of their absence on Father’s Day. Then there are the absent fathers who will not be joined by their children on Sunday or those Dads who, despite fighting, will not get to see their children. There are families who will be separated by the family dynamic or through illness or distance; families separated through love and trauma.
The notion of Father’s Day is rooted in an ideal of family and relationships. I have questioned this in a hugely simplistic way as the complexity of family relationships is wide and far-reaching. What I do know is that in the media, images of Father’s Day do not include Dads who die young or suffer debilitating illnesses or Dads who are estranged from their children for whatever reason. Instead we see families who are free from limitations and will spend the day together enjoying strong and healthy relationships. To those who will have this opportunity, enjoy! We used to enjoy it and not question it at all. I used to relish it and not really take the time to think of others. Things change and this year I will be thinking of friends and family who will not be spending the day together with their Dad, for whatever reason, and hoping that they can still find some love and laughter in it all somewhere.
For me, I would like to wish all Dads a lovely Father’s Day and I hope the sun is shining for you. For ‘Our Dads’ and Mr Brown…we love you dearly and couldn’t have got through all this without you. Thank you for making us happy and being there for us every step of the way.
And for you Mr Brown, in the wise words of one of your heroes, you’re doing a fab job!
“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”