R. Rose
June 23, 2006

I miss my dad

I MISSED Father’s Day in St. Vincent this year. Traveling as part of my onerous duties, on Sunday, June 18, of all days, I was not even in a position to call or be called, to receive my customary greetings from offspring and grandspring. No hugs, no kisses, no specially-baked goodies, no family outing – just the wear and tear of “trains and boats and planes”, as Dionne Warwick would say.

Often I offer a wry smile when colleagues or acquaintances would come up to me, expressing benign “envy” about these travels. They must be think it easy. Nothing like that, disruption of personal life, becoming a missing figure in the home, worn out by countless miles or living out of suitcases, long hours in meetings, eating irregularly and sleeping even more so.{{more}} Ask anyone who has to undergo such schedules. I have missed birthdays (including my wife’s this week), anniversaries, weddings, funerals, graduations – you name it. But I suppose that someone has to make a sacrifice, a pity it has to be me. A pity, too, that I missed the Father’s Day walk, organized by Ole George and company. They must be complimented for their effort, for while Mother’s Day is relatively big (commercialized and tinged with some hypocrisy to be true), Father’s Day passes by with no great significance. Any effort to focus on the day is very much welcome by me.

It reminds me how much I miss my own father, who incidentally passed away in this same month of June. A more humble, faithful father, provider out of his meager means for his family, is hard to find these days, any days for that matter. It makes a huge difference when one grows up in a stable family situation, with a father always present. Children who are so blessed are always in a better position to take advantage of life’s opportunities, to appreciate the value of love and caring and to be able to reciprocate in return. (We do not always do so, however).

That is why when I say, I MISS MY DAD, I begin to feel almost guilty. Guilty not in relation to my own circumstances but when I think how fortunate I was to have a father present for the first forty-five years of my life. There are many people today, big men and women, who never had the benefit of a father for forty-five days, some not even for forty-five minutes. So how could I complain? The problem is that it is not just personal. That absence of a father has devastating effects sometimes on the young one growing up. In turn the entire society suffers.

It would be very interesting to see the results of a sociological study on the effects of fatherlessness. We daily emphasize the grave deterioration in societal behavior, particularly though not solely, by young men. We bemoan the aggression, the lawlessness, the lack of respect and care for others, the drift, nay attraction to drugs and crimes which pervade our society, Caribbean society, and international social behavior as a whole. How much of it is attributable to the absence of that father figure in the home, especially during the formative years?

So, Father’s Day for us cannot be simply appreciation for one’s father, it must have a social function as well and channel us into reflecting on fatherlessness. Reflecting on the irresponsibility of our men for whom F does not stand for father, but rather for a sexual activity which we are quick to Forget. We never even glance over the shoulders to see the results of our Fling. We never stop to think of those fatherless offspring, with mothers who often themselves never had the benefit of a father. Generations growing up without a Father in the home. Maybe a nighttime male visitor but not father, guide, leader and provider. Imagine the psychological effect on those generations.