Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fathers' Day

Today is Fathers' Day. It is 18 months since my father died. One of life's natural passages is the first loss of a parent. As children we believe that our parents are invincible and that life will go on forever.
My dad was only 23 when I was born and 46 when he became a grandfather for the first time. He always seemed quite young to me.

When I see the selection of Fathers' Day cards in the drugstore or the often-purchased golf shirts in the
shops, it seems strange to me that it all goes on but that I have no father. Although I am in my seventh decade, I still feel lost. My husband has no children and my daughter spends the day with her father who often takes darling daughter to visit the grave of her paternal grandfather.

My father has no grave for me to visit. It was his wish but my wish is that there was a special place for me to go to visit him. I can think of him and I often do when visiting a port of call that would have interested him or reading a book that he would have liked but for me, rituals are important.

Today is Sunday so I will go to church with Maman. In a way, the Church provides me with some of the structure that I require. It is a recent addition to my life as I only started to attend services
when my father was very ill. Not everyone needs a church in order to pray but for me, taking the time to visit a special place and to join others in prayer and worship feels right. I leave the church feeling peaceful and a little stronger emotionally.

I am a reflective and analytical person. Some of my dear ones would say that I "think too much."
I am a teacher so early on I studied Piaget's stages of child development but I find the works of Erik Erikson more relevant at this time of my life.

Erikson used the term "generativity" to describe a stage in later life where an older adult wonders about his/her personal contribution to the world. What will carry on after he/she dies? For many, the appearance of grand-children creates opportunities to participate in new fresh lives. My parents have been lucky enough to have great-grandchildren.

For others, who have no children or grand-children, voluntarism is often a way to contribute to a "greater good". Planting a garden for others to enjoy, entertaining at a seniors' home…..There are many ways.

The loss of my father has brought my own mortality to mind. In a few years, I too will die. My work life is over and I do not have grand-children to bring new life to my older years. The opposite of "generativity" in the Erikson schema is "stagnation". If we focus only on ourselves and our own pleasures, we will feel despair and loss of purpose.

My father worked as a volunteer to promote and manage affordable housing for seniors. The tower that
will bear his name is progressing and Maman and I will probably drive by it today.

My favourite children's book is Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. The young Alice Rumphius is told by her grandfather to travel and learn about other lands, to come home to live by the sea and to find her own way to make the world more beautiful. She scatters lupine seeds all over her island home. Everyone, according to the narrator, must find his/her own way to make the world more beautiful but it is a personal quest to find the way.

Happy Fathers' Day to all the men in the world who care for children!



3 comments:

  1. (((()))) It's a loss that never really eases...

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  2. I still miss mine very much as well, especially since we lost him too early, at 72, 14 years ago.
    Miss Rumhius has long been a favourite of mine as well.

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  3. I am thankful to still have my father and mother here on earth. Generativity is something I've been thinking about lately - how can I leave the world, or some small portion of the world, a better place. I do have little grandchildren, but they are not all I think of. The Miss Rumphius story is one of my favourites, too. Choosing to create beauty that will last.

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