Remembering Father and the Fatherless {chronicle}


Tomorrow is Father’s Day.  As was often the case in my growing up years, Father’s Day fell on my father’s birthday, the fifteenth of June.  My father was born in 1928 in Norwood, Massachusetts, and died in 2007 in Peabody, Massachusetts, at 79 years of age.  He died 40.9 miles from where he was born.

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My father lived in three states during his life: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.  The furthest distance from Attleboro, MA to White River, VT is 219 miles, which takes about three hours and forty-five minutes to drive.  Small world.

Norwood to Somerville to California and Korea in the Army to Woburn, MA to Andover, MA to Wilmington, MA to Arlington, MA to Hinsdale, MA to W.Lebanon and Lebanon, NH to Enfield, NH to White River, VT to Jaffrey, NH to Attleboro, MA to Haverhill, MA.  Something is missing between the last two, when we were not in contact.

Some useless trivia about my father:

  • I am his only child.
  • He was a first generation American.  His parents were Canadian immigrants.
  • He worked in Boston’s Faneuil Hall Meat Market before he married my mother.
  • He only married once.  He was married for 23 years, until my mother divorced him.
  • He worked at Brigham’s (an old fashioned ice cream and soda shop) in Boston when he was young.
  • His parents owned a neighborhood market when he was growing up in Somerville.
  • He wanted to take me to the circus and the Franklin Park Zoo, but my mother wouldn’t let him.
  • He was the oldest of three boys.
  • He proudly wore a size 12 shoe, and often threatened to send it in the direction of those who dared cross him.
  • He always carried a clean white handkerchief.
  • He was a self-proclaimed authority on many subjects.
  • He worked as an architectural draftsman after attending Franklin Technical Institute in the shadow of his brother-in-law, their prize student.
  • His best gift was giving me away at my wedding without any evidence of alcohol on his breath.  I later learned he was a pro at this, and could sober up almost instantaneously.
  • My father suffered from depression and alcoholism.
  • I never knew him to hunt or fish.
  • He occasionally golfed, but didn’t own his own clubs.
  • He taught me to play table tennis.
  • He wanted me to study business and make money.
  • He didn’t want me to go to a Christian college, and he didn’t help pay for it.
  • He is buried in the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, on Cape Cod.

One of my best memories of my father is of the postcards which he sent me when I was in first grade, while he was working in New Hampshire and we were living in Massachusetts.  The postcards were bought at College Supplies.  They were drawings of animal families in beautiful colors.  I think that was the most personal thing my father ever did for me.  That was just before or when he started drinking.

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One thing my father and I shared in common is the love of taking photographs.  Here are some of the two of us.

I have shared these memories as a way of healing for myself.  Added to the fact that my father was not a stellar dad, is the fact that my children grew up not knowing either my father or theirs.  Simply put, fathers have not been a strong point in my family, as I suspect many others can relate to.  Please do not send us your pity, but understand that we do not have the same frame of reference when it comes to fathers.

A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.

God setteth the solitary in families;

Psalm 68:5,6

I thank God for my father. I didn’t understand him. I didn’t particularly enjoy him. But he was my father. God allowed him to be my father and I believe he did the best he knew how. I understand him better as I grow older, and more so in the years since his death. Death has a way of releasing us from life’s expectations.  My deepest concern is that my father said, in reference to Jesus Christ, “I tried that, and it didn’t work.”  He was obsessed with the fact that “most Christians are hypocrites”.  He knew what the Bible said, but he did not know the God of the Bible, as long as I knew him.

That being said, this is the end of the matter.  I have come into relationship with my Father in Heaven, Who is not only a stellar dad, but the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and the Redeemer of my sinful soul.  He gave His only Son, Who humbled Himself and was fashioned in the likeness of men, Who took the burden of my sin upon Himself when he died on the cross in my place, that I might be called the daughter of the Almighty Father.

From now on,  you hold me to it if I forget, my observance of Father’s Day will be of this, my Father, my God, my Saviour.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and if you happen to be a dad, Happy Father’s Day to you.  Be the best dad you can be by being in relationship with God the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ!

If you happen to be one of those who are raising children without a father, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day as well.  Many a Father’s Day card was brought home by my children from school and children’s church, where the teachers just didn’t know what to do.  God bless the child who embraces his or her mother as both father and mother and vice versa!  Such children are indeed a heritage from the Lord.

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