It’s Father’s Day tiday, and we’re at church. The service is over, and we’re in the Great Hall taking part in the monthly potluck lunch when my so asks me if he can go to the bathroom. Of course, I say yes. Then he looks at me and asks his question:
“Can you come with me, daddy?”
For a moment, I consider saying no. I’m in a conversation, after ai, and the church isn’t very big. He knows how to find the bathroom by himself. But he’s staring up at me with his big blue eyes, and I sigh and say yes.
As soon as I say yes, he smiles big and wide and grabs my hand and we’re off. The “whole way” (maybe a hundred feet) he’s chattering to me about five year old things, right until I ask him why he wanted me to go with him.
“In case I get scared,” he tells me.
Wait. Where’s all the research?
This is a different entry, folks. There’s no crazy facts, no research, nothing like that. Just a Father’s Day musing on being a father.
My own father died over 20 years ago and, although the pain of that loss has faded over the years, there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t missed him. I’ve got a lot of memories of him, naturally, and there’s one in particular I’m thinking of right now.
I was about my son’s age -five, maybe sux – and I’d had a particularly vivid nightmare. A monster if some sort, with purple skin the texture of a football, had wanted to cut off my skin with safety scissors and eat it. I woke up screaming and crying, and this time it was my dad who came to see what was wrong. I told him I’d had a bad dream, and asked if I could sleep in his bed.
He said no. But then he said he’d stay with me so the bad dream wouldn’t come back. Then he tucked me in, and sang to me until I was asleep. He kept his promise, too – the bad dream didn’t come back.
As a grown-up, I know that he probably went back to bed once I fell asleep. It was late, after all, and he had to get up early to go to work. But, despite needing sleep himself, he was there when I needed him.
He always was. Right up to the day he was too sick to do it any more. And then it was my turn to be there for him, until he wasn’t there any more.
So, can I go with my son? In case he gets scared? Yes. Yes, of course I can. As long as he needs me. Because I want to be as good a father for him as my dad was do me. As long as I can.
Happy Father’s Day, everyone.