First Fatherless Father’s Day

There was no refrigerator art or misshapen ashtray found when my dad died last year. At least no one mentioned anything like that even though he was a bit of a hoarder.

Robin and PaulThis is the first Father’s Day for me without a dad in the world. My dad left the family when I was 10. He was hardly ever really in my world, but at least I knew he was in the world.

My dad stopped by once in a while when his travels brought him near. He sent letters on thin blue stationary. And he assigned book reports in the summers, which he’d edit with a red pencil. Being a child of divorce meant minimizing my expectations. Don’t ask for much and you won’t be disappointed.

In my 20s, I noticed a book in a store titled Adult Children of Divorce. It certainly wasn’t a manual, but it did seem to validate some feelings about being a teenage girl with an unhappy mom and absent dad.

Now don’t feel sorry for me. Without those book reports I may have never become a writer, editor, journalist. A life I love.

And I always dedicate Father’s Day to my Mom.

Since my dad died 8 months ago, I’ve been unclear about how to grieve. Sue’s Mom died a little more than a year ago and her grief is clear. Her Mom was very present in her life and her loss represents a big hole today. And although Sue believes her parents are now together, the loss of her Mom means Sue and her siblings are now orphans. I see them shifting and changing as they redefine family.

Sometimes sadness over my dad hits me by surprise, and it’s always a little confusing. There’s still a lot packed into my relationship with my dad. In many ways, I’m still a 10-year-old kid.

Today, on Father’s Day, is the first day I’ve cried over his death. All the Father’s Day stories on TV just hit me. Somehow, perhaps, they cut through those minimized expectations.


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