Happy Father’s Day!

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Today is Father’s Day, and I know there are some people who may decrie it as just another artificially manufactured opportunity for commercial gain…. But as a father, (and grandfather) and especially as a single father, I personally appreciate the true significance and the emotional bonds and genuine love that tie together the generations…Sure Mother’s day is a bigger deal, and I can understand that because mother’s do the 9 months of heavy lifting, but the importance of a father is often underestimated in the healthy emotional development of their children….

Father’s Day has actually been around longer than I had thought,and it has become increasing popular in recent years…According to my Google sources: It (Father’s Day) was first celebrated on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington, two years after the first Mother’s Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia. But while Mother’s Day was proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, Father’s Day wasn’t (officially) recognized until 1966 when President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed it.”

Ironically enough: “It was invented by Sonora Smart Dodd, whose single father, American Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, raised her and her five siblings. Her father, William, whose wife died in childbirth with her sixth child, took it upon himself to raise his large family near Spokane, Washington, and his strength doing it made Sonora an admirer of his.”

I say ironically since I too was a single father, but I only had a single daughter to raise, and this gentleman had a whole family of 6 children to look after…. This is a monumental task in any era, but it must have seemed almost revolutionary back in those days!…But I guess the principle is the same, there is no rule or biological law that prohibits fathers from being compassionate caregivers, and I have always felt that the love and emotional closeness with your child is well worth the effort, even in the traditional two parent family….

But these days we see more and more examples of single parent families headed by fathers as the American marriage rate continues to founder and the divorce rate soars….Just as some women are not naturally attracted to having and raising children, some men, like myself, totally enjoy the experience and rewards of a happy domestic life…

Sure there are tradeoffs and balances, combining a working life as well as a child raising experience for a single father, but single mom’s have been dealing with this very issue for years…It is all a matter of wanting to do it, and realizing that the warmth and love you extend to your children while they are young and vulnerable is not only worthwhile and satisfying in it’s own right, but also that this love will come back to you a thousand times after your child has grown up and left the nest…

I always had a great time raising my daughter…. We would do all sorts of things together, on the weekends especially, like rowboat rides in Stow Lake in the Golden Gate park,  feeding the quacking flock of ducks from the boat, like going to the Japanese Tea Garden, like going to the park and roller skating on Sundays, like hiking over the back trails and hidden recesses of the park, exploring the Rose Garden, going to the museums and aquarium as often as possible…

In fact, since we lived just a few blocks away from the park in the Richmond District of San Francisco at this time, we used to always say that the park was like our back yard and we took full advantage of it…These were life long bonding experiences that we did not even recognize as such at the time, we just both knew that we had fun doing them together, and we eagerly looked forward to each weekend as a new opportunity…My daughter usually had a girl friend over for the weekend too, so it was like I had 2 kids most of the time…

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We also both had fun participating in the big things going on in our little world, like attending the annual pumpkin festival at Half Moon Bay every fall, like horseback riding at Moss beach, like going to Marine World every summer and seeing all the exhibits, like going to parades and traditional events such as yearly art festivals or going Christmas tree shopping or trick or treating on Halloween or cooking the turkey, with all the trimmings,f or Thanksgiving every year…

My daughter has always had a flair for decorating, so she would fill the house with festive home made drawings, pictures, decorations and all the little things that make a house a home every holiday, and we both enjoyed them equally…She has continued to carry on this very same tradition with her own daughter, my precious granddaughter, and I am convinced that two more lovely, loveable, thoughtful girls could not be found anywhere else!

During the week we had the same closeness, although of course I had to go off to work and she had to go to school, but when I got home I would help her with her homework, cook dinner and we would eat together and discuss our days and what we wanted to do next….And there there were always things to do, book covers to be made, school projects to work on, dishes to wash, taking care of our cats, a thousand little rituals repeated daily just as a matter of course, working together…

We used to bond together after dinner and doing the daily chores by watching our favorite television shows together, we both tended to gravitate toward sit coms, and we religiously watched shows like “Little House on the Prairie,” “Good Times,” “Happy Days,” “All In The Family,” “Mash,” “Three’s Company” and the spinoffs like “Laverne and Shirley,” and “The Jefferson’s” and of course we never missed an episode of “Fantasy Island” or “The Love Boat!” We used to LOVE Saturday mornings when the new fall schedule of cartoons came out, especially “Scooby Doo!”

I would not give up these peaceful, loving domestic memories for anything…I feel proud and blessed that I had the opportunity to bond with my daughter as a single parent, and I would not trade a single day of the experience, even the later rebellious “punk rock” stages of adolescence and the eventual, inevitable growth and transition of a little girl into an independent, successful woman with a beautiful, loving daughter of her own…My daughter and me will always share that closeness, those memories, and my granddaughter too is a special blessing to me….

For all you men out there who shy away from emotional closeness with your own children, for whatever reasons, I can only wish you well…You are cheating yourself out of the most emotionally rewarding, rich and loving experiences in all of life…Your children are born looking up to you…Don’t let them down…

To all the dads out there, single or married: HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

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