Monday, June 20, 2011

Fathers' Day Card - FAIL

For those of you who spent a warm and fuzzy Fathers' Day, with or in contact with your fathers, or the fathers of your children (hopefully, not too many of those - not judgin', just sayin') or with someone who was "like a father to you," I'm happy for you.  Truly. Only a teeny bit jealous.

This video is for you.

But for someone like me, who has about 7-8 good memories of Daddy Dearest, and many more not-so-good ones, picking out a Fathers' Day card each year can be problematic.

There are so many cards that simply aren't appropriate:

from nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos
To the Father who always cheered me on... FAIL

To the Father who taught me everything I needed to succeed in life... FAIL

To the Dad I could always depend on... FAIL

Dad, whenever I think of all the special times we spent together... FAIL

On this Fathers' Day, hope you enjoy all the things you love to do...  FAIL

He never played golf, he could not have cared less about classic cars or fishing, so most of the generic vanilla cards are inappropriate.  Sometimes a humorous card works, but even those are sometimes too "oh how wonderful you are!" and make me gag.

My alcoholic, narcissistic father was not the biggest, most flaming @sswipe of fathers on the planet, this I know.  He never molested me, he wasn't (often) physically abusive, but during my childhood and teen years, though there were sporadic bursts of attention from him, he was mostly off doing his own "thing." 

For many years as an adult, I tried to renegotiate a new relationship with him, frequently writing, sending cards and pictures, etc., efforts that were seldom reciprocated, and then usually by my stepmother, rather than by him.  Finally, I decided enough was enough, and gave up hope. 

So while I've grieved for the father I didn't get to have, I have other family members, who are loving and wonderful.  I'm blessed with a large network of supportive and fabulous friends.  Over time, Daddy Dearest moved further and further down the list of people with whom I feel (or want to feel) a close emotional connection.  Right now I don't think he's even in my top twenty.  Probably not even in my top forty.

Photo via Ambro on FreeDigitalPhotos
In the last few years, after my stepmother passed away... he's gotten bored.  He's elderly now, and has spent many hours  calling my oldest sister, as many as four or five times a day about such nonsense as his "defective toilet paper," I kid you not.  (What he expected her to do about his defective toilet paper, we don't know.)

And for a little while, he wanted to reconnect with me.  Not to apologize or to rebuild bridges, but simply because he was bored, and wanted even more attention than he was getting from my sister.  I considered it, but decided I'd had enough of being picked up like a new toy, fussed over, and then dropped when something shiny caught his eye.

(As I write this, he has now stopped calling my sister altogether  and in fact instructed her not to call him, as he's busy and having a good time.  So, not just me being cynical.)

I decided that what works best for me is not speaking to him on the phone or visiting (luckily he's on the other side of the country).  To occasionally send him a letter, and yes, mail him token cards at Christmas and Father's Day.  If I keep my distance, I can better remember the good times, and forgive him for the not-so-good times.

Hence my Hallmark dilemma.  And while everyone's situation is unique, I know there are others out there who also don't have those heartwarming, misty-eyed relationships with their fathers, either.

I think we need our own line of Fathers' Day cards.  
  • Dad - thanks for spawning me.  
  • Father... Some of my childhood memories are actually pleasant.  Thanks for those.  
  • You were almost like a Father to me.  Better luck next time.  
  • Remembering you on Fathers' Day with this token card.

Too bitter? 

How about something more ambiguous:

  • On Fathers' Day, I always think of you.  May this day bring you everything you deserve.
  • Dad... I spent a lot of time looking for the perfect Fathers' Day card for you.  Couldn't find any, so you'll have to settle for this one.
  • Dad, when I look back on my childhood, I think of all I learned from you. 

  • Here's a Fathers' Day card without a golf or automobile motif, because I know you never touched a golf club or checked your oil in your life.

  • Thinking of you on Fathers' Day.

If you, too, have a less than ideal fatherly situation,
want to suggest some non-smarmy Fathers' Day sentiments?