"Father's Day" - Claude Grubair
I lost my dad in the summer of 2012. So many things left unsaid. So many things left undone. My new reality began with everything being a first: The first Hurricane game we wouldn't share; the first family BBQ without dad; the first time that I met someone special that I couldn't share with him. Each day presented a new challenge to manage my feelings of sadness and despair. The holidays magnified my feelings of grief and loss. And, Father's Day was especially painful. Father’s Day is a universal holiday for children and families to celebrate their fathers in a way that was unique to each. There was something transcendent about that day that went beyond a birthday or any other holiday. It was an opportunity for me to express my admiration and love for the true hero of my life, and to thank him for the lessons he taught me and his generosity. That first year, as that day approached, I wondered how I would feel with the void. I decided I wanted to maintain that special connection to my father. I would honor him in a way that not only allowed me to reflect on so many incredible memories shared, but to create a new tradition I could take with me for the rest of my life.
My father didn’t tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch him do it.
Clarence Budington Kelland
The morning of Father's Day arrived and there was a great many things to accomplish if my ambitious plan was to come true. I began the day by visiting my father's grave site. I decided to express how much I both missed and loved him. On this day I chose to honor his life and spirit by living it exactly as you would. My next stop would be a visit to his favorite French bakery. My father had a Father's Day tradition of purchasing pastries and croissants to bring home to the family. Having participated in those errands in the past, I also recalled that a few purchases would be just for himself. For example, he would always buy an extra baguette for the ride home that was right out of the oven--A little secret we would share. While I never had quite the sweet tooth that my father did, I did my very best to hold up my end of the bargain. I emptied the shelves as if preparing for a major storm. When I arrived at my mother's home she could only smile at the huge pile of purchases. She smiled as if to say, "That's exactly how your father would have done it."
Fathers just have a way of putting everything together.
The afternoon was reserved for a drive to nowhere. My father loved his Father's Day drives into the "wilderness," as he described it. He would gather us all into the car (dogs included) and say "let’s go for a ride." That ride could find us on a beach on the west coast of Florida or at a garage sale three counties away. I remember always wondering what it was about that drive that he loved so much. As I grew older I can recall asking to skip the traditional drive and he would always let me off the hook. But what I failed to understand was that it was his way to combine everything he loved most in the world together at one time. First there was his music collection. We would hear the songs of Frank Sinatra or the classics of Neil Diamond or Stevie Wonder. The collection was endless and he loved to sing along. We had heard these songs so many times that we knew all the songs by memory and could sing right along with him. Yet that was exactly what he wanted. The longer we were in the car, the louder we sang and he the larger his smile became. Now, on Father’s Day, I get into my car with his entire soundtrack and just drive. It seems that driving to nowhere is the best way to find yourself. At least it has been for me.
The imprint of a father remains forever on the life of the child.
Father's Day would always conclude with a feast cooked by dad. By the time the meal would come to an end the entire neighborhood was in our backyard laughing and enjoying the celebration. My dad would go around from person to person sharing a funny story or corny joke with the goal of making everyone smile. His most famous line would always come at our expense, or so we thought. He always managed to keep a few business cards in his pocket no matter where he was. But it wasn't for networking purposes. My father had the unique gift of remembering the names of everyone he met. But he also made sure they would never forget him. His approach was a simple one. An introduction followed by the question, "would you like to see my pride and joy?" The customary responses would be yes, I would. Most people believe that what would follow was a photo of his family, or perhaps his car. But to everyone's surprise and delight it would be his business card that had a photo of a bottle of pride and a bottle of joy. The responses were always the same. A big laugh! And whenever he got that laugh he would look around the room to make sure we witnessed it. It wasn't until years later that I came to understand that he wanted us to know that bringing joy to others was the most important thing he taught us. Now, my Father’s Day evenings include a family BBQ. I would also make sure that his old neighbors knew that his traditions would become mine. And as that first father's day drew to a close I sat with my five year old nephew and told him about all the things his beloved grandfather had passed to me. And that one day it would be his turn to continue those traditions of laughter, joy and love.