Father's Day Without Your Father - You Still Need to Celebrate

This is the first year of my life that Father's Day will pass without my father being around.  While I read things and hear people say that since their father died they can't celebrate or can't bear to acknowledge the holiday, I have to say that I find such sentiment a little self-serving and disingenuous.  Stop the boo-hooing and treat the day as a way to honor the man who made it possible for you to sit around and feel sorry for yourself.

If we are lucky enough to live that long, we will all experience a first Father's Day without our father.  My father passed away last November and I know he would have wanted me to have a good time and spend the day with my own children and family. Even if I didn't have kids, I know he would have wanted me to enjoy the day, regardless.

So for those of you, like me, whose father has passed on to a better place, here are some suggestions on how to celebrate Father's Day without him:

  • Attend an event that your father enjoyed attending.  In my case, my father was the quintessential Cubs fan and, in his honor, I will attend a minor league baseball game - the Windy City Thunderbolts game in Crestwood, Illinois.  The 'Bolts, a member of the Frontier League, will be playing the Schaumburg Boomers, and are letting dads on the field to take batting practice before the game.
  • Say something your father would have said. During their lives, each one of my kids heard my father say, "You should go work on a cruise ship for a couple years.  You'll see the world and get paid." None of them did it.  But, in his honor, I want to find a recent college graduate who is unemployed and make that suggestion.
  • Drink something your father would have had. Grey Goose and lemonade, here I come.
  • Eat something the old man would have asked for. In his later years, my father's health was bad and my mother would not allow him to poison himself with foods that they both knew were not good for him. As a result, he was unable to enjoy the polish sausages, pizza, ribs, and fried shrimp that he consumed too much in his earlier "healthy" days.  Nevertheless, my father did sneak out of the house on occasion and, on one famous day trip to a Cubs game with his grandsons, consumed three polish sausages and one smokey link at Wrigley Field while swearing them to secrecy from their grandmother.  In honor of that secret, I'll be sampling the fine fare at the Thunderbolts game on Sunday.
  • Remember a good childhood moment. Nothing warms the heart and starts the eyes watering more for me than sitting back and thinking about good family times I had when I was a kid. Summer camp, family road trips, little league baseball games, etc.  But, on Sunday, I'm going to find a quiet moment and think about the time I was playing varsity soccer for Evanston High School in a game that we were playing in a 45 degree rainstorm and seeing my father trudging along the sideline into the stadium to watch us play.  A busy businessman who couldn't always be around for everything, but I sure appreciated that effort on that day.
  • Call your mother. If your mother is still around, give her a call.  She misses him too.
  • Do something your father never did or never would have done. To show that you are your own person.  For me, I'll go to the gym.  (See above polish sausage anecdote.)
  • Put on some of his preferred aftershave. Yes, I will smell like Brut on Sunday.  It may not be Ralph Lauren Black, but don't hate.
  • Go ahead and check out the Father's Day cards. You may not be in the market and even though they're kind of cheesy, I still think the words ring true and I know I would have trouble coming up with those sentiments myself.  Don't buy one, just read a few.
  • Raise a glass and make a toast. Say whatever comes to mind.  It will feel good.

We may not be all that sensitive and we may not show our emotions all that much, but fathers need to stick together, even when they're no longer around. Happy Father's Day to all of us.

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