Commentary By Robert Kelly-Goss
Today is Father’s Day. Many of us dads are receiving gifts, tokens of the appreciation from our children and our wives.
The appreciation I receive each day comes from the daily interaction with my children.
“I am proud to be your dad,” I told one of my boys.
“I’m proud to be your son,” he said to me.
That exchange took place just the other day, on the way to school. It was just the two of us and I was thinking about my dad and how different life is for my children.
My dad wasn’t around too much. My parents had a pretty nasty divorce and circumstances being what they were, I didn’t have the relationship with him that I would have preferred.
I did, however, eventually connect with my dad. In my adult years I found him and he found me and I suppose while I could count regrets, I won’t because I have had a good time with him over, say, the past 25 years.
But today, Sunday, June 15, I am with him in Arkansas to say goodbye. I am saying goodbye to my dad because at 72-years old he has been stricken with the inexplicable, ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
His motor skills are nearly disappeared. He can no longer help himself, nor can he speak with any clarity. I will sit with him while I am here and I will be grateful for the fact that while not perfect, I have a dad.
Fatherhood is a special gift and saddly there are many who spurn it. My friend Denauvo Robinson has said it is a crisis and it needs to be addressed. I agree with him.
In thinking about my dad, I did what I do, I began reading about fatherhood and what other writers think about it. I decided to share some of these with you. There are many but I have chosen ones that I enjoy.
So on this Father’s Day, I hope you enjoy these, too. But most importantly, I hope you enjoy the very reason you are celebrating today, your children, and your dad.
“To be the father of growing daughters is to understand something of what Yeats evokes with his imperishable phrase 'terrible beauty.’ Nothing can make one so happily exhilarated or so frightened: it’s a solid lesson in the limitations of self to realize that your heart is running around inside someone else’s body. It also makes me quite astonishingly calm at the thought of death: I know whom I would die to protect and I also understand that nobody but a lugubrious serf can possibly wish for a father who never goes away.” — Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir
“A father has to be a provider, a teacher, a role model, but most importantly, a distant authority figure who can never be pleased. Otherwise, how will children ever understand the concept of God?” — Stephen Colbert, I Am America
“A boy needs a father to show him how to be in the world. He needs to be given swagger, taught how to read a map so that he can recognize the roads that lead to life and the paths that lead to death, how to know what love requires, and where to find steel in the heart when life makes demands on us that are greater than we think we can endure.”
— Ian Morgan Cron, Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me: A Memoir...of Sorts
“Sooner or later, you will discover which kind of father you are, and at that moment you will, with perfect horror, recognize the type. You are the kind of father who fakes it, who yells, who measures his children with greatest accuracy only against one another, who evades the uncomfortable and glosses over the painful and pads the historic records of his sorrows and accomplishments alike. You are the kind who teases and deceives and toys with his children and subjects them to displays of rich and manifold sarcasm when--as is always the case--sarcasm is the last thing they need. You are the kind of father who pretends knowledge he doesn’t possess, and imposes information with implacable gratuitousness, and teaches lessons at the moment when none can be absorbed, and is right, and has always been right, and always will be right until the end of time, and never more than immediately after he has been wrong. And when your daughter’s body begins to betray her, and her sky flickers in the distance with the heat lightning of sex, you clear your throat and stroke your chin whiskers and tell her to go ask her mother. You can’t help it--you’re a walking cliché.” — Michael Chabon, Manhood for Amateurs
“The greatest mark of a father is how he treats his children when no one is looking.” — Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
“As fathers, we should have a desire to be active participants in our children’s lives.” — Asa Don Brown
“That anyone could father a child, but a real man chooses to be a dad.” — J. Sterling, The Perfect Game
“Of all the titles that I’ve been privileged to have, the title of 'dad’ has always been the best.” — Ken Norton
“Nothing I’ve ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children.” — Bill Cosby