Father the USAF helicopter pilot, 1970s

Father the USAF helicopter pilot, 1970s

It’s been about 17 years since I’ve been able to face up to father’s day. That was about the time my father suffered a major stroke (yes, on Father’s Day) and fell into a downward spiral that dragged out for over a year and a half until he died in April, 1996.

I have actively avoided Father’s Day since then, but I never begrudged those who still had father’s to celebrate. Why be mean, right? People should enjoy what they have while they have it.

This year, though, as I watch all my friends posting photos of their fathers to their FB and twitter feeds, I suddenly felt an urge to do more than let the day slide by, unremarked.

I scanned in some photos and posted them. I went through my father’s WWII photo album, a badly deteriorating and mostly mysterious book of people and places that I have no reference for (father was 46 when I was born, and that war was 25+ years in his past by then).

He was a good man and a very interesting person; perhaps not the best father, but I know he always put his best foot forward and tried when he could. Alcoholism robbed me of whatever the lingering PTSD from the war didn’t, so I’m glad I got as much of him as I did.

I think that’s the heart of Father’s Day: gratitude. Fathers make mistakes, they are only human, and if they stayed around instead of running away then they for sure screwed something up at some point. Dismissing the truly terrible fathers (and they are out there, I know), I’d like to think that most fathers want what is best for their children and try to help them along this bumpy road called life with love, affection, pride, and a strong sense of humor.

I know mine did. Miss you, daddy. <3

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