The Dad Enigma

Dad on BeachWait until your father comes home!
Father knows best.
Daddy’s little girl.
Who’s your daddy?
Luke, I am your father!

We all have heard these phrases.

What is a dad?

A friend of mine pondered this question recently as he gave a speech about his father in honor of Father’s Day, “The Dad enigma.”

Judging by the variety of pop culture quotes, the concept of fatherhood – or “daddy-hood” – has a wide range of connotations.

Fatherhood is defined simply as being a man who has begotten a child. Fatherhood does not mean you are a “Dad” in the casual, more intimate sense. Anyone can become a father simply by the act of procreation. But the sad fact is that while many men create children, they are not there to nurture them. Many of these fathers are almost children themselves. It is a sad state of affairs when so many children go without the guidance of a strong, moral father figure, and undoubtedly it’s the cause of many of our children going astray.

In his speech, my friend spoke about how his dad had caused emotional pain in the family. He was cold and unaware of how his actions hurt those around him. These actions were thought to be attributed to the fact that he grew up without love being shown to him, therefore he was unable to give and show love in a healthy fashion.

Fortunately, over the years because of the steady resolve and love of his son the father eventually came to a point of opening up emotionally. He was finally able to show love. This is indeed a rare case where the child rescues the father. Now every night the father tells his son, “I love you.” A happy ending.

My memories of my father center around outdoor activities. Most every day in the summer we would go for an after-dinner walk through the neighborhood. Other times we would go on longer hikes for further distances and into the woods and marshlands behind our neighborhood. I loved those because I fancied myself an Indian in the woods.

At the lake or beach, he was always the one playing in the water with me. One adventurous day we dared to walk around the entire lake, sometimes not even having a path to follow. I’m sure my mom was mad at us that we were gone for so long and she was worried about us!

I feel sad that my mom did not join into the exercise because it would have kept her healthier and happier and she might still be with us today.

When I was quite young I remember my father singing a “Good night” song as he put me to bed. At the end of the song he would swing me through the air. You know how people misunderstand song lyrics? I remember thinking the chorus was something silly, but later learned otherwise! I can still hear that song in my head until this day.

While my dad was the primary breadwinner, the household was not traditional. My dad was the quiet one! It was my mother who ruled the home (and my dad) with a firm hand. I was never afraid of my dad; it was my mother who dealt out the punishment. I guess that would make me a Daddy’s girl – or maybe in my case a little bit of a tomboy!

My dad was tinkerer. He was always working in his shop in the basement, building something. A manufacturing engineer by trade, he could look at anything and then go home and make it. I loved the smell of his shop: the wood, grease and metal smells. I probably inherited my craftiness from him because I also see things and go home and make them, or invent things entirely on my own. I think he would be proud of my creative home renovations!

What is a dad? No enigma here. To me it meant a companion, someone to have adventures with. Someone to sing me good night. Someone to give me good memories.

I hope that you have a father figure in your life for some fond memories.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! With love always, Daddy’s little girl, Gloria.


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