a Father’s Day reflection

(**I now celebrate Father’s Day without my dad. He died on August 17, 2018. I’m missing him today.)

Celebrating Father’s Day is kind of a “mixed bag” for me.

I had a good dad growing up… can’t say a great dad… but a good dad. Unlike many others, he was physically present in our home – a powerful presence. He was an Air Force helicopter pilot: authoritative, argumentative, and alcoholic. We drilled the states’ capitals at dinner, stood at attention for room inspections, and felt guilty if he found us watching TV during the day instead of pulling weeds in the yard.

I have a strong work ethic, a tendency to criticize, and a strong character because of my Dad. I am thankful that he also gave me a desire for physical fitness, a love for travel and the outdoors, an appreciation for classical music, and the ability to believe in myself. He often said, “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.” When I asked his opinion regarding a few key life decisions, he said, “I wouldn’t ever do that, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.”

My Dad did not build many deep relationships – contributing to my parents’ divorce after 25 years. He has rarely shared dreams, concerns, or any deep emotions with others. I don’t believe he understands a personal faith with God, and I think that causes him fear about dying. His health is deteriorating, compounded by the effects of a life-long alcohol addiction.

When Father’s Day comes along, I choose to honor him for all the good he brought into my life… and I choose to forgive him for the non-existent affection and communication that I longed for in our relationship. I thank him for loving me and supporting me in his own way, and I release him from the unmet wishes that he be sober, neat, and without favoritism.

I am very grateful for the ability to build on my past – but not be enslaved to it. My husband and I leaned heavily on the hope that we would create a different kind of home and family than I grew up in… including the good, but adding new elements of our own choosing as well. I know some of you had much more difficult experiences with your fathers… or never really knew them. Others had great Dads. Our families are part of us… but they are no excuse for poor habits or choices… or lack of forgiveness – there is always hope because of a perfect heavenly Father who can help us move forward and create a better future.

So, Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you as you are. I am praying for you. 

What was your Dad like? How do you celebrate Father’s Day?


**I recommend Leslie Leyland Fields’ post and book to you if you are attempting to love or forgive an imperfect father.

5 thoughts on “a Father’s Day reflection

  1. So honoring of your dad in light of life circumstances! Love and forgiveness really are choices–you’ve shown that beautifully. Everybody leaves us with unmet expectations–we assume our parents are above that. I do, anyway. Thanks for the timely reminder of how to love well by choice. How to respect because it’s an act of obedience and love. And how to let go of what I’m not getting from a parent who isn’t able to give what she doesn’t have herself.

  2. So well expressed, Terry. I, too, can speak of honoring and forgiving my dad, as did you. Loved him dearly, and miss him much. I do know we will see each other again because He dearly loved the Lord who he committed his life to at age 24. The releasing from the unmet expectations spoke deeply to me. My problem was not so much releasing him, but my own decision to not place those expectations on him, thus leading me to continual disappointment. Thanks, my friend.

    • Thanks, Jan. Releasing unmet expectations has been important for me… and you have given me a helpful tip for the future… to not ever place those expectations in the first place. This will help our future relationship. Thanks! Love to you, friend!

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