Father, Son, Brother, Husband

I had a very nice Father’s day. Maya and J made me a yummy breakfast of fresh fruit, pastries, coffee, and juice. Maya bought me two DVDs (I watched “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” last night!)

Because Mother’s Day is celebrated before Father’s Day, I’ve been wondering if this day to celebrate dads was a kind of afterthought. Since I’m just as susceptible to the easy route as the next person, I didn’t run to the library to research Father’s Day, but relied on that iffy source: Wikipedia.

According to the folks who pieced that entry together, Father’s Day was proposed after the Civil War (more like the turn of the century) but didn’t become officially recognized until 1966 when Lyndon Johnson made the 3rd Sunday in June the day we say “thanks dad.”

Maybe not an afterthought, but certainly a later “day of recognition” than Mother’s Day. 

(My dad and mom –2006) 

I grew up with two dads. My biological father, and my step dad. My father and I didn’t have a close relationship (despite what you see in the picture below), but I had (and have) a very close relationship with my step dad. He taught me how to do those stereotypically “guy things” like fishing, camping, and even shoot a gun (it was a .22 and we shot at cans in a deserted field). My step dad was the one who encouraged me “take a year off” and pursue an opportunity to be a professional video editor (with the hope of becoming a film director). And even though I never became an artist like him (though, for a long time, I desperately wanted to be),  I learned to embrace my creative side and never submerge it in order to lead a solely “practical” life.

(My father and I cira 1974) 

My biological father, on the other hand, was a model of boot-strapping success.  He grew up very poor in Guyana, South America, but was the “smart kid” in the family who was not destined to be worker in the sugar cane fields, or toil in the hot sun on a rice plantation.  Because of a series of fortunate connections, and financial help from his family, he was able to come to the U.S. and study medicine at Boston University (pre-med at University of Nebraska). After he married my mom, had kids, and eventually immigrated to the U.S. via Canada, he worked the rest of his medical career at Kaiser hospital in Walnut Creek, CA.  I suppose the “big thing” my father taught me was the value of an education.  He always said that was the one thing “they” could never take away from you.  He was right, of course.  Once you’re credentialed with a degree (or in my case, a series of degrees), you’re credentialed for life.  It’s a nice feeling of accomplishment to know that the years of dedicated study paid dividends that are hard to quantify (but are there nevertheless).  

Fathers are supposed to teach boys how to be men.  But I would venture to guess that most men really have no idea what it means to be a man. And maybe that’s a good thing, because to be trapped by the narrow confines of “identity” (writ large) is something I personally shun. Sure there are traits that you can point to in men that are common to the gender, but does that define what a man is?  I sure hope not.

Sorry this is a rambling mess of a post… 

–PK

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