Don’t Call Me Fatherless

"father and daughter"

I remember the last Father’s Day that my dad was alive.

It was three years ago. I had just graduated from college and was visiting my mom in Atlanta for the week. Before I left, I had bought my dad two Father’s Day cards. I love cards and he did too so, every year, I would take a significant amount of time searching for a funny one and a serious one. That year was no different and I found two perfect cards. In the hustle of trying to get out of the house and drive down to Atlanta in time for the Atlanta Greek Picnic, I didn’t get a chance to give my dad the cards. That’s okay, I told myself, I’ll give them to him when I get back. And off I went down South. A few days later, on Father’s Day, I called my dad to wish him a great one and thank him for the emergency money he had wired me the day before. The next day, I thought to myself that I should call him but it was late, so I decided I’d call him tomorrow.

The next morning, he was killed in a murder-suicide.

In the hurricane of emotions and activity that followed, I kept thinking about those Father’s Day cards sitting on my dresser unsigned and never given to him.

As if I were not suffering enough, those cards tortured me. They served as a sobering reminder that tomorrow is not promised and if you have a silly card to give to someone, give it to them — even if it means missing a sorority stroll at a picnic. Of course, I realize they were just cards, but they represented everything I lost on that devastating morning. They represented the words never uttered, a thankful spirit never expressed and the fact that I would never have a father again.

I was a fortunate one, I guess, considering some of the stories I’ve heard about people not even knowing who their father is. Even though my parents divorced when I was ten, my dad was a big part of my life growing up. My mother and I moved to Atlanta while I was in high school, but I ended up moving back to my hometown and into his house during my Senior year. Then, I attended college about 90 minutes away, so I was home all the time. He was there to lecture me about finances, attend school events, financially support me, and keep me sufficiently nervous about my choices in men.

When he died, a friend reminded me that I was a “lucky one” to have had a true father in my life for 23 years, but still I was utterly devastated that he wouldn’t be there for the next 23 and the 23 after that. It’s still sad to think that he isn’t here today to see how I turned out (and am still turning out). It’s especially sad around Father’s Day.

It’s weird, because I swear this country has turned up the festivities on this Hallmark holiday like none other since he passed. I’m sure that’s not the case and it just seems like that because I’m on the other side. Still, I’ve determined that this year I will still celebrate Dad’s Day despite not having a dad. I will be glad for the memories I have and celebrate the dads who are still creating memories with their kids.

Fathers get a bad rap in this country because of the many who have abandoned their kids. That’s not every dad though. Sure the statistics are dismal, but even if 50 percent of kids are living without a dad present, there are still 50 percent who have their dad there in their lives every single day. Then there are other kids who have a stepfather, grandfather, cousin, uncle or brother who have selflessly stepped up to the plate and been a father to a child who otherwise wouldn’t have one. I was already an adult when I lost my dad, but I am still thankful for my stepdad, my father-in-law and my father God in heaven. All whom serve as a daily reminder that I am not “fatherless”. That’s definitely something to celebrate this weekend.

(Author’s Note: I originally wrote this post for MadameNoire.com:  http://madamenoire.com/187818/dont-call-me-fatherless-celebrating-fathers-day-despite-not-having-a-dad/)

I may even buy someone a card.

Comment here or tweet me @AlissaHenryTV :)

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