Sunday, June 17, 2012 will be my fifth Father’s Day without my own father. He passed on June 28, 2007 after a fifteen month war against pancreatic cancer. In many ways, a part of me died that day as well. In many ways, the very fiber of who I was…and who I continually evolve into…was altered forever. How could it not be when you witness Superman succumb to his only kryptonite.
I wrote this post last year, but it became so important to me that I’ve decided to post it again. I just might do it every time this year. It lends me power. It reminds me that when a hero passes, there must be another to take his mantle. In this world, for our children, there must be greater things to believe in. There must be greater legacies to uphold.
So I dedicate this to all the fathers today. Both living…and gone. Children need superheroes.
Even if they’ve grown…
early four years ago, I had an opportunity to take my dad to lunch for Father’s Day. He ordered a big bowl of pasta, if memory serves me correctly, but he didn’t eat all that much, if anything at all. My recollection of those days has long since browned along the edges. But I do remember that I promised him an espresso & black sambuca over dessert. He wasn’t supposed to drink alcohol anymore, but he didn’t care. Neither did I. I don’t make many promises. But a promise is a promise. And I never break a promise.
Two weeks later, my dad passed away after a long war with pancreatic cancer.
I did make one other promise to my dad. Growing up, I always had the suspicion my father was a superhero of some sort. The man was capable of doing anything. Sadly, it wasn’t until he grew sick that his guard lowered, the truth ready to be learned. While he lay sleeping, I peeked under his hospital bed. There lay a dusty pair of boots. Across them, a red cape. I took them gently from beneath the bed, hugged them close. One last time, I kissed my father upon the head. Then I returned home & hid them where no soul would ever look. And I vowed that they would stay hidden, until I had a child of my own. Until I was man enough to fill those boots & wear that cape, until my child knows of the superhero their grandpa was. Until Superman can fly again.
Four long years ago I made that promise. And a year after that, I whispered one more to my little girl the day she was born. I don’t make many promises. But a promise is a promise.
And I never break a promise.
Eventually, my daughter will learn she was born into a family of heroes. For now, she only needs to know I’m daddy.
Father’s Day is nearly here, so if you’ll excuse me, I must go. I need some time for myself. There’s something I need to take from hiding. Four long years, and now the day has come. Time to honor one life, & then live for another.
Finally, I’m ready.
At last, time to fly.