|LD Cannon circa 1947|
This coming Sunday is Father's Day. I have a lot of mixed emotions about Father's Day this year, and quite frankly, I am having a little trouble processing it all.
First, I am coming to grips with the fact that this is the first Father's Day since my dad passed away. (Reference my earlier blog from November honoring my dad at his passing.) The last part of his life he suffered dew to Parkinson's disease. Because of his suffering, in a way, I felt relief, knowing his suffering was ended. Although he and I were distant geographically, we were very close all my life. But I can't call him tomorrow to wish him a Happy Father's Day. Albeit I know Heaven is a happier place this year with him there. So, this year I join the ranks of those remembering dad en absentia.
What makes Father's Day a little unique for me is the path of fatherhood I have chosen. We have six children; all adopted: all at different ages. Our first daughter we adopted at birth. We later adopted a sibling group of three; ages nine to twelve, the later, two sisters ages nine and thirteen. Each of these children bring a different perspective to Mother's Day and Father's Day. They are all old enough to have memories of biological parents, so they bring their own perspective to Father's Day. It is a hard day for some of them.
Holidays were always a little awkward at our house; each family member coping with the reminder of what was lost. It was seldom spoken in those terms by most of us, but we all felt it. That idea of, "What if things were different?" was always there. My wife and I had a truly monumental task of bringing "normal" to the mix. (Please do not tell me what saints we are for what we did. We saw an opportunity to give something we had to give, with no guarantee it would be accepted or appreciated. We did what we could to make a difference.)
Those children are now ages twenty two to thirty. Some have reunited with their bio-families, but all still keep in touch with us. They still love us, and still call us "Mom and Dad." But that title means something different to all of them. When my kids left home I gave them all the same two statements. First, "I will always be here, and I'll always be dad." Second, "You, as an adult will now chose how close a relationship we have. I will not chase you down. I will not hover. If you choose to be close, I'm here and grateful for it. If you are distant, I'll be right where you left me. If you come back in later years, we will pick up where we left off."
Of course, the response to that statement is as varied as the children themselves. It even varies with each child with time. Some are close, some not so much. Some close for awhile, then distant, and back again. Today we are all on good terms. I love them all dearly, and can honestly say I don't have a favorite. (This will certainly be disputed should my children read this, but oh well.) I am proud of what they have all achieved, and I tell them so every chance they give me. Chances are, I will hear from most of them on Sunday; either with a gift, by phone call, card or text message. I will be grateful for what I get.
To top it off, my wife and I are now foster parents and have three little boys in out home ages two to four! They are, in their young minds dealing with their own definition of family. It is a sad but present part of our culture. Again, my beloved bride and I are just trying to do what we can.
With this back story, I anticipate a very emotional Father's Day. All I ever wanted to be was a husband, a father and a pastor; in that order. These three titles are the only ones that matter to me. It has never been what I anticipated. Before taking custody of the three sibs their foster mother asked me, "Mr. Cannon do you have any idea what you're getting yourself into!!??" I replied, "No ma'am, I don't. But neither do they. We'll just have to figure it out as we go." I'm not sure I ever figured it all out, but I'm glad for their sakes that we tried. I guess that's fatherhood. Figuring it out as you go; looking the men who filled that roll for you while figuring out.
I hope Father's Day is a happy day for you. I hope those of you who still have your dads present will draw close to them and linger. If, like me, your dad is no longer present, I pray you find comfort in his memory and what he instilled in you while you had him. If you are one who's dad chose not to be in the picture, I hope you find the strength and courage to be in the picture for others. It's what you can do.
Just a thought. Thank you for reading.