We don’t have statistics to prove it but we’d guess that most baby boomers don’t have their dads around any more. However, that doesn’t mean that in one way or another they aren’t still in our lives. Like Marina Klima Goldberg of Morganville, New Jersey, whose home design firm is named after her dad, and who still thanks him on Father’s Day.
Let’s be honest: we could still use more of actual shows and programs honoring dads and fatherhood and fewer commercials for Father’s Day. It is true that fathers are not used to being the center of attention. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why many dads say that they don’t want any gifts. When it comes to grown-up children, they crave a deeper and more subtle expression of gratitude and love.
My father was not an exception. He was quite humble on Father’s Day.
What he never told me but I always knew was that his Father’s Day card had to be handwritten. He read it slowly, savoring every word, stretching the time, creating an event, making it all more ceremonial. Then, still patiently and slowly, he would unwrap the gift. It was usually home-made cookies or other baked goodness. He would try one and raise his eye brows. “They are good!”
The corners of his lips would lift but he tried not to smile, enjoying the look of suspense on my face. Then finally his arms would open with a big thank you hug. Playfully he would still pretend that he did not see yet another wrapped object. Oh, there is also another gift, and it looks expensive.
Now he touched his chin in hesitation. But he wouldn’t look at it until later. He knew that this moment was not going to last forever and he wanted to drink every drop of the time together to the very bottom. Then he would call to talk about the gift and how unnecessary it was for me to spend all the money. But he would smile on the phone.
This is how I remember Father’s Days with my dad. He started to like gifts only when I was about forty. I guess he thought that it was an okay age for me to give a little back.
Even though he came to America in his 60s, he learned English pretty well. When he first read an ad about Father’s Day promoting gifts to “Dads and Grads,” he was genuinely surprised. “Do they want fathers to give their graduate children presents on Father’s Day?” It was hard for me to explain that because both celebrations are in June, marketers lump the two holidays together into one. “It’s capitalism, pap!”
It has been two years since he is gone. But I am thankful for our fifty-five years together. I am blessed that he took care of himself running six miles a day even in his late seventies. I am blessed that he could walk faster than me at the age of seventy-five. I am blessed that he could dance longer than me. I am blessed that I could never ever win a chess match with him. But in trying, I’ve learned a lot.
Even though he is not with me on Father’s Day, I’ll report to him again this year and I’ll bake his favorite apple pie.