My dad was a Protestant minister when I was born and who, later in his life and in mine, converted to Catholicism and was ordained a Catholic Priest. He remained a Catholic Priest for the duration of his life, and worked right up until the last moment, despite his impaired health. The photograph of Dad above shows him unusually tanned and weathered — this was because he’d been conducting Catholic services in the open-Texas-desert on a frequent basis in addition to indoors in his parish.
He departed our realm for Heaven some years ago — the photograph above was taken the last time I ever saw him — and so for me, Father’s Day is always a twinge of immense love in memory and marvel of and about my dad, but also tearful sadness because I regret not being the best daughter I could have been while dad was here and could have appreciated more love and attendance from me.
I write “could have been a better daughter” because I had a number of emergencies during the last decade of my dad’s life, such that I was preoccupied with what was necessary to cope with those, and, I lived in California and dad was in Texas and I didn’t devote to him the amount of time and visits I wish that I had. That I could have. That I didn’t take his best advice at a critical time and that was to “come home to Texas and live with your grandmother.”
He did know best and not following my dad’s advice at the time in my life when it was given caused greater pain for grandmother, dad, and, for me. We always see clearly in retrospect, they say, and so it is I’ve now discovered as I’ve grown older.
I don’t know if every child experiences this in reference to a parent who has passed on, just that these are my experiences about dad, about our mutual past: it isn’t so much regret as it is sadness that I was not as aware as could be when it would have made a very big difference for both of us.
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers reading this, and to all the children reading who can still call or visit your dads and let them know just how important and loved they are.
About my dad, I pray for his helps and love even now and I know that he remains eager and available to provide. Just in another dimension.
For our fathers, who give us care and protection, love and direction, may they always know we love them.
Me — missing the camera shutter moment — and Dad, in Atlanta, Georgia, taken a few years earlier than the first photo (above).