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Frankly Fatherhood – Remembering my Dad

I love everything about Father’s Day! The warm weather, the yard work, the upcoming end of the school year, and the handmade cards and gifts from school. But this year, my heart is drawn to my own father who passed away last fall.

My dad fulfilled the stereotype of the blue-collar, hardworking, immigrant man who spent most of his waking hours working to make ends meet and provide for his family. He worked long days, weekends, overtime, and even took odd jobs for extra cash. We always had a stable home and food on the table. But it came at a cost – we didn’t get to see much of our father. I learned to value the rewards of hard work but that I also need to find balance. I want to be more present for my kids than my dad was and to experience fatherhood as more than just being a provider.

When we did have the odd weekend together with my dad, we relished in his unwavering affection. I remember him rolling around the ground with us, climbing all over him, and losing my breath from getting tickled so hard. Summer weekends were glorious when we’d take the ferry over to Toronto Centre Island. We’d bring a cooler, have a picnic, and go on the rides all day. We were so tired that we easily fell asleep on the subway ride home in his lap. I strive to give my kids these kinds of memories and to be that loving and demonstrative dad.

To my surprise, I often catch my father’s words and values coming out in my parenting. We make a point of eating all meals together with no screens. I encourage my kids to solve their own problems. We are all involved in chores and yard work because “we all live here and need to take care of our home together”. Everyone is always welcome to our table and when big decisions are looming, family always comes first.

I miss my dad. I miss his warmth and affection. He loved barbecuing for you, drinking wine with you, and he always made a point of making you feel at home. My heart aches most when I think of all the time my kids won’t have to bask in his light. I need to remember that our lives together are finite and to value the time we have as much as possible.

We learn so much from our fathers. Many of us will adopt some of their ideals, sayings, and even those eye-rolling “dad jokes”. Or we learn from their trials and mistakes, and vow to be better fathers to our own kids. No matter how involved your father was in your life, he influences and shapes the father you become. In turn, we need to remember that our kids are watching us, learning from us, and will one day reflect on the father you were for them.

Happy Father’s Day!

Frank Emanuele is a proud father of two boys, a special education teacher, and a director of Dad Club London.

 

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