June 19, 2016
By Arthur H. Gunther III
Father’s Day is a time for special reverence, especially when your dad is gone. It’s almost easier then, sad to say, because you don’t readily recall the difficult moments. All children have them with their fathers. All fathers have them with their children. Maybe even more so if there is a son.
My own Dad, gone a little more than a year now, is terribly missed, for while we often got under each other’s skin, he always had my back, and I, somehow, became the responsible son, enough so that he began to think of me as being like his own father. There aren’t enough tears of gratitude for that sort of full circle. In the final years there was a mutually satisfying dialogue and companionship. It was a road that seemed destined, and I am grateful. Yet even if we had not turned to the same path, there was one moment in my life that made my father my Dad.
Think of your own father, be it the dad of a son, now man, or a girl, now woman. What was the special thing he did that made you forget his justifiable admonitions as well as his warts?
Someone I once had the pleasure of talking at length with about all manner of things — to the point that the conversations were both quite satisfying and most revealing of her character — found her father to be a constant light in her life. He was gifted with a responsible, achieving, quite loving daughter who constantly made him proud. And she had a father who made sacrifices for her. He did many things, but one special moment came when this camera buff sold equipment that must have been difficult to come by so that he could build his daughter a playhouse in the backyard. Her father was her Dad in that moment and many others.
In my own life, the moment came in the second grade, one-third completed in Nanuet, N.Y., where we had moved just a year earlier and the rest of the school year in nearby Tallman. This fellow — me — did not adjust well and was held back in June. My father, who was not a shouter or an in-your-face fellow, politely but forcefully pleaded with school officials to give me a break. He knew his son was capable of the work required.
Yet those were different days, and the school officials did not reconsider. Years later, my mother would tell me what my father did. In that moment, my father became my Dad.
The writer is a retired newspaperman who can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org