KEITH BROWN BLOG: What is the true meaning of Father’s Day?

What is Father’s Day, is it a pub lunch, pair of socks or a comical card about the old man’s age?

Commercialism will tell us it is all of the above and more if they could sell it to us. It is a bit like Christmas sometimes with the flitting around, and mostly at the last minute, to buy that little something to show our appreciation.

There are of course good fathers and there are bad fathers, my own being of the latter variety, abandoning our family when I was three years old. Not that I stayed bitter for too long, it was only about 27 years, if I recall, before I said that I forgave him. Not that he in anyway thought he had anything to be forgiven for, I might add, as he blamed the whole sorry affair on my late mother.

The truth was I did not forgive him for his sake; I forgave him for mine, so that I could move on with my life, and choose to leave behind all the hurt and pain of his absence, but to be honest, I never really knew him. He never came to any football matches that I played as a lad, nor did he watch me in the school plays, and on those occasions when, as happen to all at some point, I became the target of the bullies, I could never say, “I will bring my dad to sort you out”.

The role of being a father is not an easy one; I know that. I have two daughters. We fathers may often give the attitude of a hard exterior and pretend that nothing really bothers us too much, because we are a dad and that is what we do. We are the foundation and cornerstone of the family whether we like it or not, and we should never delegate that role to another.

We men often hurt more than many will ever know and we can hide it well; some men are masters of deflection and maskers of emotional pain, laughing off the merest suggestion of gentleness, denying that the emotional guard is ever down, lest they become inclined to show too much of a gentler side.

I discovered that my children needed me to be all those things for them, the hard and determined man in times of trouble, and the gentle man in times of illness and insecurity. They wanted a loving and emotionally aware man, a father who was there for them when they were going through their own difficulties. They never needed a judge, only a confidant and a word of wisdom hewn out the rocky road of my own life.

Am I the perfect father? Far from it; I did not exactly have a very good role model of my own to draw from, and so often I was simply trying to do what I believed my absent father should have done for me. A bad father is not one who fails now and again; the bad fathers are the ones who fail to try.

Mine was, as I said, a fatherless upbringing with my mother playing both roles. The hard life that she had, coupled with the three jobs and the threechildren, led to the inevitable early grave at 48. I have never needed to purchase a Father’s Day card or take a loving old man to lunch and watch him take pleasure in the ones who loved him sitting around a table celebrating the day with him. If you had that privilege this Father’s Day, then you are very blessed indeed; there are many that will never have that day.

I wrote earlier about that flitting around and getting something to show our appreciation at the last minute. If it was the last minute of your father’s life, -- what would you say to him?

The chances are we won’t be there in his last minute, so why not truly make his Father’s Day and tell him what we would say in the last moments of his life!

I hope you seized the moment this year, because most fathers neither need nor want anything more than our sincere love.

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