Sunday, June 17, 2012

Far away, So close............on Father's Day

Yesterday afternoon the house was quiet, truthfully more quiet than it has been for months. Our overnight company had departed after a late breakfast, my husband was golfing, our son now far away in Oklahoma City where he will begin his residency in a few short weeks and I was content and immersed in a moving, personal essay titled Far Away, So Close written by award-winning Globe & Mail columnist Ian Brown who reflects on what we lose when our fathers are gone. Like all exceptional writing, this essay got me to thinking of my own father who I will visit today and of the special relationship that my husband has always had with our only son, more like brothers than the father-son relationship of previous generations.

"You miss your mother in a different, more dramatic way: You were ripped from her body, after all, and so when she dies, a part of what was once you disappears for good. But your father stands apart, watching, the one who shows you how life works, who provides context – your instructor, your guide, your tracker, your friend (if you’re fortunate, and I was) and finally your companion. Eventually, if things go the way they are supposed to, he leaves before you do and you face the world without the person who first ventured it beside you.
What he leaves is a gap, a fissure in your belief that the world is worth exploring. It doesn’t feel like much at first, especially if he was a good father, because he’s made you believe you don’t need him. That is the job of the father, after all – to fail his children, gently."

When I read the last few lines, it got me to thinking of the recent, sometimes heated conversations I would have with my son about his father's habit of leaving him daily to-do notes in the weeks before he prepared to move to another country for the next three years. Lists saying such things as "Did you finish all your US Visa paperwork? Get the oil changed before driving to Oklahoma. Check your US health coverage. Get your tires checked. "Our son thought them highly offensive "Why does dad leave me all these annoying lists? I am 30 years old and have gotten this far, does he think I really need to have him remind me what I have to do?" At first we would giggle, blame it on the particular personality traits of dentists and their task-orientated nature, dismiss his precise handwriting and go on our merry way. As the days passed, the lists became longer, more repetitive, more annoying. We tried rolled our eyes, hinting out loud that we weren't a pair of wayward teens who needed constant reminding of our adult duties, but each morning there was another. I was perplexed, in all other regards my husband treats our son with the adult respect he now deserves, so when we were sitting together after talking to our son in his new destination, I asked him "why do you keep asking him these mundane things, you know he is perfectly capable and you know it drives him crazy". A look was both impish and wistful as he answered simply "it's all I can do now to still feel like his father". I thought of his look and his answer as I read how Ian Brown described a good father as one who has made you believe you don't need him. Then I thought of the tiny drawing our son left behind, one which obviously shows he sees his father and himself as equals now and it was clear.............yes, he has done his job well, beautifully in fact. Those lists were just his way of gently letting go after all. Happy Father's Day JPC. xo

drawing by APC


  1. Thanks for sharing this lovely post!! Happy Sunday hope you enjoy!

  2. sande, I am sure the essay you were reading is lovely but your personal story of your son and husband was wonderful. you help me to look at a few things differently, too. thanks for sharing a little bit of your lives with us today...donna

  3. Oh my god that essay is so gorgeous! Some of the most beautiful writing I've come across. Thank you so much for sharing it. And congratulations on your son. You and your husband must be terribly proud, and happy for the strong relationships you all have.

  4. I loved this post, Sande. Loved, loved, loved it. I need to go read the Ian Brown essay now, but I am a bit fearful, because I'm already teary-eyed reading your beautiful post. I lost my own father when I was 16--far too young to have developed the kind of friendship with him I would have liked, and his absence left large empty spaces in the landscape of my life. I miss him terribly every day.

    Thanks for your beautiful words, my friend.

    Much love,
    Gigi xoxo

  5. Lovely thoughts Sande. I think we fall in love with our husbands in a deeper way as we watch them develop into sensitive, loving fathers. I'm blessed to have two sons and a husband who shine when they are together.
    Leslie (aka Gwen Moss blog)

  6. What a beautiful and heartfelt post!

  7. I adored this post + such a wonderful relationship the father/daughter/son!

  8. beautiful post. I was a daddy's girl and have had to miss him now for 16 years since he passed away. Father's day is now one of remembrance.

  9. Sande, a most beautiful post, thought provoking and insightful....your husband and son are both fortunate to have such an understanding and connection between them. I have two sons who I adore and my husband does the same as yours..when they left for university I saw the same thing unfold, you have made me understand it....recognize the need to maintain their presence and influence, I especially like the line, " a father needs to fail his children gently " N.xo

  10. Sande, this is a gorgeous post and such a lovely tribute to your two boys... the drawing is fantastic... I can imagine how touched JPC was.... xv

  11. Happy summer! I feel the same about my girls growing up! The truth is that we will need are children, more than they will need us when they grow up! This is a beautiful post! I loved keeping up with your blog! Love, Jamie Herzlinger

  12. Sande thank you so much for this wonderful, wonderful post. A tough but tender read for me as my father is still here but completely absent. What I'm hanging on to in your story is your good husband's honest response. You're a fortunate woman Sande to have such wonderful men in your life. Say's a lot about you too! xo Lisa

  13. Sande,

    I'm late to read/respond to your post because I had the privilege of visiting both my father and mother the last couple of days.
    First of all, I enjoyed reading your personal story on fathers, and found it very touching. Yes, tears came to my eyes right about the time I read the words containing Mr. Chase's response to your inquiry. I already knew his answer because my father does the same to both me and my husband. His words of advice are never condescending but my husband and I often secretly feel the same way your son feels--"We're adults, we know already!" Finally, we came to the realization that fathers still yearn to feel needed in their children's lives.
    So, we've learned to listen with an open heart and mind and know that the words and reminders from my father are acts of love, and how could we not deeply value his sentiment behind them?

    I hope you and your father had a special time together on Father's Day.


  14. Sande such a special post (crying as I read) puts a different light on father son/daughter relationship. how sweet is the drawing and am sure JPC is and has been an exceptional father and very proud of his son.
    Carla xx

  15. Oh sandekins, you can make me laugh and cry...cry with this post, especially those words of your husband and laugh at the comment you just left me....go get that sizzle.
    lots of love D


Your comments are such a lovely addition to my day. Thank you.


Related Posts with Thumbnails