Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a bittersweet day for me.  First of all, my dad died when I was only 13 years old, so for the overwhelming majority of my life I grew up without a father.  Secondly, my son, who is now 41 years old, is autistic, so he is a perpetual child.  I love him dearly, but we have never grown beyond the point of my taking him to animated movies, and our conversations are limited by his limited language skills.  I can’t relate to those friends of mine who have grandchildren and whose adult children regale them with gifts on this day.  My sisters and my nieces wish me a Happy Father’s Day.  My wife gets me a card and takes me to dinner.  But I never have enjoyed this day to its fullest.

Someone once told me I should be thankful that I never had to go through the anxiety of having to watch children grow from infants to adolescents; that I’ve never had to go through the heartbreak or disappointment of seeing a son become addicted to alcohol or drugs or be arrested or have a child out of wedlock.  Perhaps.  But having to live the joys vicariously through others children is just as heartbreaking.

Again, I feel the need to stress:  I love my son.  He has been a blessing to me.  He has taught me patience and shown me unconditional love expressed not verbally, but in his actions and reactions when I am in his presence.  Yet there is a part of me that will always ask, “what if?”

I used to often dream of having lengthy conversations with my son, of being able to throw a baseball back and forth, of enjoying a sporting event together.  I still dream them, although far less frequently than in my younger days.  The question I ask myself more often now is, “what is God trying to teach me through all these experiences?”  I guess that is my quest.

I am thankful.  I continue to listen to God’s Word.  Hopefully, I am learning with each day.

Published by pastorallende

Retired Bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Social justice and immigration reform advocate. Micah 6:8. Fluent in English and Spanish. I enjoy music and sports.

One thought on “Father’s Day

  1. Wow, that was a really good post. I think a lot of people go through living vicariously through others, and doing that brings about a measure of pain. It doesn’t mean that one is complaining about one’s lot in life, however, or that one does not love those he or she is with. I agree that the most important point is, “What is God trying to teach me?”


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