To My Dad, For the Thanks I Fail to Say

Today, 18 June 2017 is recognised in several countries as “Father’s Day”. In a world where a substantial number of children now grow up with their mothers as single parents, the role of fathers has never been more critical. There are people with the natural ability to deliver semen and whose semen have found a way to fertilise a female’s egg, and there are others who have not just delivered semen but have helped to nurture the resulting new life. However, while demonising the former, society has failed to recognise the sacrifices of the latter group.

Earlier this year, there was an International Women’s Day, a Mother’s Day and a Mothering Sunday. On each of those days, social media was agog with messages idolising mothers and appreciating the huge sacrifices they make all through their children’s formative years and into adulthood. Many mothers received gifts and messages of gratitude from their children and from others who see them as mothers. Do mothers deserve all the encomiums they receive? Yes, of course! Even I published an article to celebrate my mom(s). However, today, on Fathers’ Day, a different tune is being sung.

I decided to write this article because I realise Fathers do not get appreciated enough. In fact, they hardly get any appreciation. This morning, I noticed that in several chat groups where I belong, no one posted any message about fathers, quite unlike what transpired on each prior day dedicated to women and mothers. Even when I not-too-subtly prompted members of one group with an existing strong inclination to celebrate women, no one took the bait. Then I looked inwards at myself and arraigned myself before my court of equality. Even I did not call my dad, instead I spent the day living the life of a tourist.

Why did I not call my dad nor send any message? How can I accuse the world of not doing enough to celebrate fathers when even I failed to celebrate mine on the lone day officially reserved for gratitude? At my trial, my defence counsel argued that my dad does not care about Fathers’ Day nor even birthdays. Then I wondered why this would be so. Why would my dad not care whether his children or anyone else celebrates him? I realise it may be because he thinks he does not need gratitude for doing his “duty”.

Unlike some persons who may have been abandoned by their biological fathers, my dad was and still is always there for me. As long as my needs were within his power, he ensured I got them. My little academic ability was nurtured because he ensured I got a good primary education in a private school and paid for extra private lessons to ensure I received a boost ahead of my mates. Then at home, he would push me to handle tasks my colleagues could never attempt. During my secondary education, he had my back whenever a senior bullied me, and taught me to stand for myself. After all his efforts, which of my parents is closer to me? My mom.

Does my dad love me? Of course he does, even though he has never said so. However, because he grew up in a culture where fathers are supposed to provide for their children without expressing any emotional attachment, he simply does his “duty” and my mom gets all the attachment. This scenario surely repeats itself in many families, which is why on Fathers’ Day, celebrating Fathers is almost like an afterthought. Many children lack emotional attachment to their fathers, even when their fathers have been there for them all their lives.

This article is just my way of saying I appreciate all my dad has done for me. Not just my dad, but every father figure who has guided me through life. They are the reason I am not in some jungle wielding a rifle. I saw a moving tribute on Facebook posted by a colleague. Her tribute showed the attachment she has to her dad. I hope that when I become a dad, I can dump the Rambo outlook and build a strong bond with my kids, so they would see their mom and dad as equally lovable and equally deserving gratitude.

Just before I finished this article, I sent a text message to my dad. It simply said:

“I know we were not trained to show you gratitude, but I must say that I appreciate everything you’ve done. Happy Fathers’ Day & Happy Birthday”

I wonder how he would feel when he reads the message. Maybe someday I’ll ask him.

Image Credit: crosswalk.com

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