There’s a moment of perfect bliss for everyone.
It could be a magical golf shot, a heartfelt moment with a best friend, precious time with a child, the euphoria from a great run, a moment of surprise, one’s wedding day, reading a touching book, winning an award or a kiss.
As a writer, I feel good about most articles I create yet there are always those that resonate incredibly with me while others impact the readers in ways I could have never imagined. The article I read this past week gave me that blissful feeling. I’ve never read a more profound article about a father.
The writer, Charles Blow (NY Times columnist) says this about his father:
He could relate to my brothers’ tactile approaches to the world but not to my cerebral one. He understood the very real sensation of touching things — the weight of a good wrench, the tension of a guitar string, the soft hairs on the nape of a harlot’s neck — more than the ephemeral magic of literature and learning.
So, not understanding me, he simply ignored me — not just emotionally, but physically as well. Never once did he hug me, never once a pat on the back or a hand on the shoulder or a tousling of the hair. I was forced to experience him as a distant form in a heavy fog, forced to nurse a longing that he was neither equipped nor inclined to satisfy.
My best memories of him were from his episodic attempts at engagement.
Even though his father had serious issues, "he wasn’t a mean man" writes the author. He goes on to say:
ALTHOUGH he had never told me that he loved me, I would cling to that day as the greatest evidence of that fact.
He had never intended me any wrong. He just didn’t know how to love me right. He wasn’t a mean man. I had never once seen him angry. He had never been physically abusive in any way. His crime and his cruelty was the withholding of affection — not out of malice but out of indifference.
One would have understood if he completely disengaged from his father as so many young and older people do who have the misfortune of a bad parent. Instead of becoming bitter growing up or distancing himself, the writer embraced the rare experiences he did have with his father.
Unlike the writer, my father was a good man although he wasn’t capable of giving me everything I desired (i.e. sports, modern wisdom for a teenager, etc) and that was okay. I got those things elsewhere. What he did give me was an abundance of love and support which I am grateful for. Even though we had our share of father/son struggles in my teenage years, our bond became much stronger as I grew into a wiser man.
Like the writer, I wholeheartedly embraced the times my father was capable of giving me. I was fortunate to have the best of both worlds as my first basketball coach (and mentor today) gave me high doses of the aforementioned elements that my father couldn’t provide.
Whether you father is seldom there, indifferent, good (but not great) or non-caring, you should gain strength and/or insight from the beautiful words in this article.
The writer eloquently describes the NEED we have for a father’s love:
It just goes to show that no matter how estranged the father, no matter how deep the damage, no matter how shattered the bond, there is still time, still space, still a need for even the smallest bit of evidence of a father’s love.
Charles Blow, this was your perfect story.
Have a wonderful Father’s Day (USA) and Happy Gswede Sunday!
Gswede enjoying the moment on the lovely coast of southern Sweden