After all these years, I can’t shake this one image from my past. A group of us kindergarteners sat around a long table and the teacher handed out paper and art supplies. She asked the class to make a Father’s Day card for our dads. I immediately felt the tears well up in my eyes. Something pushed me to hold them back, though. Maybe it was my grandmother’s voice in my head telling me not to be a “crybaby”, maybe it wasn’t. I held it all in – and with this bottling of emotions, another part of me pushed to put my grief to use.
With my markers and crayons in hand, I proceeded to make the most beautiful Father’s Day card ever…for my grandfather. Some little jerk in my class saw it when I finished and made fun of me. Somehow, I wasn’t going to let him get to me. This card was for my grandfather because he meant a lot to me. Even though he wasn’t my actual father, he raised me as if I was his own.
There was a coldness left with me when my father passed on, but my grandfather always showed me warmth. He always tried to heal that sadness. Part of it was knowing how I felt, because he lost his father when he was a child as well. The other part was simply that he loved me.
Later that day, I marched that card home to my grandfather and his eyes welled up too. Only this time, it was joy. I had never seem him get misty-eyed before. He gave me a gigantic bear hug and said “Thank you.”
He still talks about that card to this day.
To all the fathers out there:
Happy Father’s Day!
You are special, you are loved, and you are appreciated.