The Bittersweetness of Father’s Day

Father's Day

Me and my dad, circa 1987.

For me, Father’s Day is a tough one. I spend the day celebrating the father that my son is so lucky to have, while mourning the father that was taken from me way too soon.

Each year, I tell myself it’s going to be different. I’ll focus on spending the day showering my husband with the love and gratitude he so deserves. I’ll happily make him breakfast, let him watch all the baseball he wants, and end the day with the dinner of his dreams, without putting a cloud over the day with memories of my dad.

My husband never asks for this. I just feel like it’s something I owe him. He does so much each and every day for our family. So, why can’t I just spend this one day a year focused on him?

Instead, my stomach turns at every friend who posts a recent picture with their dad. I push back tears thinking about how we’d celebrate the day with him. And, more than anything, I just wish he was here.

In The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell writes ::

“I’d love to know how Dad saw me when I was 6. I’d love to know a hundred things. When a parent dies, a filing cabinet full of all the fascinating stuff also ceases to exist. I never imagined how hungry I’d be one day to look inside it.”

This rings true to me every single day, but especially on Father’s Day. How did my dad like to spend his Father’s Day? What was his favorite thing about being a parent? What was his proudest moment as a dad? I have so many questions running through my head that will have to be left unanswered. 

My dad passed away before my son was born. I never got to see him as a grandfather, and I know he would’ve been a great one. I can just see him sitting next to my son at a Brewers game or teaching him how to hammer a nail. My son is only two, but it gets harder every day to remember my life before becoming a mom. I now have this huge, huge part of me that my dad never got to be a part of, and it is so painfully unfair.

As time passes, sure, the loss of my dad becomes less of an open wound. But, it will always still be there. No longer a constant, throbbing pain, but the sort of pain that arises in old joints on rainy days. The pain that erupts at the worst possible time and hurts like hell.

I wish it was different, but I think it’s time to accept that a little bit of me will always be dealing with that pain on Father’s Day. My father was an unbelievable dad who loved his kids immensely. Even though it hurts, he deserves to be celebrated.

So, this Father’s Day, I’ll spend a few minutes talking to my son about what a great man my dad was. I’ll tell him about his great sense of humor and his love of NPR. I can tell him about the time my dad painted a big banner that said “Happy 16th Birthday!” and hung it on our front porch to celebrate my Sweet Sixteen. Or, the time my brother dyed his hair green and my dad had a sweatshirt made that said “Mom’s Chia Pet.”

At the end of the day, we’ll toast to both my dad and my husband. After all, they are both pretty legendary.

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5 Responses to The Bittersweetness of Father’s Day

  1. Emily June 14, 2016 at 8:31 am #

    Really great article. I have the exact same situation and it was comforting knowing someone else is in the same place I am. Thanks and Happy Father’s Day!

    • Megan
      Megan June 14, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

      Thanks for the sweet comment, Emily. I’m happy to hear you can relate. Have a happy Father’s Day!

  2. Gina
    Gina June 15, 2016 at 7:33 pm #

    Beautifully written, Megan! This is close to my heart too. Although I lost my mom, I echo your feelings, especially about wishing I could have seen her as a grandmother.

    • Megan
      Megan June 16, 2016 at 9:32 am #

      Thanks for the comment, Gina. Although I’m very sorry to hear you can relate, it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  3. Melissa H June 16, 2017 at 5:04 am #

    This will be my first Father’s Day without my own father. Thanks for writing this. My thoughts are all over the place and it helps to read this knowing I’m not alone.

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