I often think of my father, and now that Father's Day is approaching, I wish he was with me so that I could hug him and feel the comfort of his embrace. I miss watching his eyebrows lift and the twinkle in his eyes before acting out or saying something funny that made us all laugh. Fathers have many qualities that don't come from a list but were learned traits from their father or mother or by life itself. It's their childhood stories that reveal who they are inside, those unique pieces of them that we don’t always see as they take on the fatherly role of protector, provider, and disciplinarian. My father enjoyed people as well as isolation from the world. He loved his library, music, books, and writing for the newspaper or novels or children's stories that my sisters and I grew up hearing. If life brought a problem or a tragedy, it always ended with Dad finding humor in it. Smiles or laughter would lighten the moment, and hope and faith through the love of his Bible would comfort and inspire us. My father's gift was to shut out the world and to hold on to his center of peacefulness. It would take me years of exploration, reading, and finding a greater awareness of Self through ashrams and meditation with my sister to begin to understand this internal peace during a crisis. Dinner time with my family was not only delicious, with both my parents being gourmet cooks, but they were magical storytellers where their life lessons guided me throughout my life. Mother's stories were about struggle, fear, threats, perseverance, and sacrifice - from falling into quicksand or being hidden in a basement wine barrel to avoid the interest of a mafia leader. Dad’s stories were about mischief in his youth, and after his parent’s death, how he turned to the Bible and a profound understanding of spirituality while still feeding his creative imagination with writing and theatre. Sometimes at dinner time, Dad would sit at the end of the table as a character from a famous play, wearing a wig, and embodying another personality. Many of my favorite moments were when Dad and I were alone in the library, and he would play the banjo, and I would sing, off-key, but with great passion as I destroyed his favorite songs. He would smile and keep playing, encouraging me with humor.
It is the simple and ordinary things in our daily lives that mean the most to us. Many fathers during the coronavirus have had to readjust their lives to meet the needs of their families. Fathers throughout the world struggled with vulnerability as they faced their fears and weakness, only to rise braver and more loving in their family's eyes. This Father's Day, I want to honor all fathers who unified their families as best they could. They gave their children volumes of unforgettable memories that will guide them throughout their life with the same determination and struggle as the fathers who loved and raised them.