On Father’s Day, I remember my father, of course, who passed away in 1978. I have missed him through all the years since. He was the traditional provider of his family, who owned his own architectural hardware business, called the “Ralph Andersen Company,” furnishing all of the hardware on some of the buildings in Utah, including the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake and several others on the east coast, and the first MGM Hotel in Reno.
My dad was a great businessman and a gentle soul who was also a very creative craftsman, a poet and a caring father. The greatest obstacle in his life was alcoholism, but even so he managed to sell his business a year before he passed and left enough money to support my mother until she passed 18 years later. From looking at that aspect of his life, I have learned the importance of a commitment to our responsibilities and perseverance that overcomes even the most difficult healing challenges.
Now on Father’s Day, I also think of my sons Chris and Justin. They are seven years apart and my youngest, Justin, had his two boys first, and then Chris followed with two girls. Justin is meant to be a father of boys and Chris… a father of girls. Though both are gentle, loving souls like their grandfather, Chris has the extra-sensitive streak that allows him to relate to little girls, while Justin is the dad who wrestles with his boys and relates to them in very male ways. It has been fun to watch them both unfold into their fatherhood.
Fatherhood includes more aspects of a man that it used to in my Dad’s day. Today, men have more societal support in being nurturing and having greater involvement with their children than ever before. For some time now they have participated in the birthing process, while my Dad had to pace outside the hospital room and wait to be called in to finally see his newborn baby. From talking with my sons, I believe that they became bonded with their children from the moment they became witnesses to their arrival.
It is also amazing to watch my sons struggling with their kids’ issues: dealing with one unable to find a niche in sports or other group activities, feeling angst watching one hang out with a troubled friend, trying to help instill more confidence in one, and luring one forth from a cocoon of shyness. All of these are issues that I dealt with as well when I played the role of both Mother and Father, as a single parent. It is a strange feeling when it all comes full circle.
Watching my sons in their parenting allows me to learn where I made mistakes and where I truly succeeded. It also fills me with compassion for our humanness in our roles as parents or children.
May this Father’s Day be one of meaningful memories, deep realizations and joyful moments!
Love & blessings,