Father’s Day Is No Longer Bittersweet

19 Jun

For most of my life, Father’s Day has been a bittersweet holiday. My father passed away suddenly when I was a child, leaving my with a great big hole in my heart and an overwhelming feeling that I got cheated out of a parent. Every year when commercials would come on talking about Father’s Day, I felt left out. As I got older, I learned to realize that my father’s death was part of some greater plan (not that I had to completely understand that plan) and that I should be thankful for the other wonderful male influences in my life.

I don’t remember a ton about my father, except that he was incredibly creative and artistic. I always remember him being the life of the party and for the way he always made me feel like a princess. I was certainly “Daddy’s Little Girl.” My dad was a music lover. Whenever I hear Creedence Clearwater Revival and Fleetwood Mac, I think of him. His favorite song, however, was “American Pie” by Don McLean. I remember he ran a lot too. He ran the Great River Road Run every year. I secretly wish they would resurrect this race in town so that I could run it in memory of him. Who knows, maybe that’s where I get my love of running from? 🙂

My mother’s father, my Paw Paw, was a super special guy. He was an antique bottle dealer which meant he spent a lot of time digging around in the ground and selling his goods at antique show and flea markets. He made the very most awesome chocolate fudge. My Paw Paw was a serious animal lover. He also had the fattest cat I have ever seen in my life and insisted on feeding him fresh shrimp daily. In addition, he actually had a family of raccoons as pets. I know they weren’t domesticated or anything, but he insisted on frying a pan of fresh corn bread for his raccoon family daily. To this day, whenever I see little raccoon figurines in gift shops, I immediately think of him.

My father’s father, my Granddaddy, was one hard-working man. He was a mechanic by profession, but he was also a cigar smoker, fisherman, gardener, and fantastic story teller. He could grow the biggest, most beautiful watermelons you have ever seen in your whole life. My Granddaddy smoked three cigars a day. My most vivid memory of my Granddaddy is sitting with him on the swing, under his carport, leaning against him under his arm while he smoked his afternoon cigar. You would have thought lung cancer would have been the thing that got him, but it was prostate cancer. When I found out he was really sick, we didn’t get to his house in time to say goodbye. I still wish I would have had that chance.

The best “dad” I have had has been my brother. My brother is 10 years older than me and ever since my father passed, he has stepped in to play big brother and dad. He is enough older than me that when he gives me advice, I generally listen, but he is young enough that he can still understand what I’m going through. These days, he inspires me to work hard, remember what life is really all about, and work hard with my training. He is also a runner and cyclist and I’m so proud of him being an IronMan.

This year, my view of Father’s Day is certainly more sweet than bitter. Knowing that Baby Key is half way here (we are 20 weeks today!), and celebrating today as my husband’s first Father’s Day is pretty exciting. He keeps telling me that, technically, next year is his first Father’s Day, but we are celebrating today anyway. At the beginning of the year, we started going to a new church. Brent played guitar in the service today for the first time and I may or may not have gotten a little teary that he picked today to do it. I’ll have to be sure and tell Baby Key that on his first Father’s Day, his daddy was playing guitar for him in church. 🙂

The very best daddy-to-be in the world and me.

Today, we are celebrating by relaxing, eating some homemade crawfish etoufee, green beans, and rolls. For dessert, we’ve got cake and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Super healthy? Probably not. But this Father’s Day is just getting sweeter by the minute…

To all the dads and dads-to-be out there, Happy Father’s Day! You are special and important. Never underestimate how much your children need you. Hug them often. They won’t forget it.

2 Responses to “Father’s Day Is No Longer Bittersweet”

  1. Katherine at 4:20 PM #

    Katie, this brought tears to my eyes. Father’s Day has always been a strange holiday for me as well, as my mom divorced my biological father when she was pregnant with me. However, she met a wonderful man and married him when I was a little over a year old. That man has always been my father, and I was legally adopted when I was a little girl. It seems to me that it doesn’t matter who plays the role of father in our lives, because so many men are great role models and teachers, and love us unconditionally. You are blessed to have a brother who is special to you, and of course a great husband whom I’m sure will be an incredible dad!

  2. Melissa at 3:21 PM #

    A beautiful tribute to the important men in your life. Thank you for sharing.

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