Being Fatherless on Father’s Day

This one is for family. If you’ve never known loss, you might not understand. If you have, I am so very sorry. And this one is also for you.

I survived another Father’s Day by taking my son to a new pizza joint.

(New to us. Maybe you’ve heard of it?) It’s located across from Target’s ginormous parking lot in Grandville, MI.

Unprepossessing two-toned brick, reminiscent of kiln-fired pizza. Clever design or was brick on sale when they were planning construction?

Herb & Fire Pizzeria is a stand-up joint, and by that, I mean you order you pizza at a counter and then wait for your name to be called to go pick it up. Still, it makes a pretty decent pie with a nice variety of toppings for such a small establishment.

I spent Father’s Day mostly oblivious to the holiday, until it came time for dinner. Then, eureka! I remembered I had an excuse to go out for pizza. To commemorate my late husband’s favorite food.

Compact kitchen, still manages to sling artisanal pizza pies with surprising speed.

As I wait in line to order my personal flatbread, keeping the starving teenager from pouncing on other people’s food, I can’t help but think about what it’s like to no longer celebrate Father’s Day.

My father died in 2015 at the age of eighty-six; he’d had a good run. He’d been a decent dad, despite his likelihood of being on the same spectrum as his grandson. He wasn’t perfect, but he’d loved me in his own way.* I mourned him probably more than he would have expected. And it certainly hit me harder than I realized it would.** I still get teary-eyed at the sight of coleslaw. (You’ll have to visit a dismembered memory to get that joke.)

My husband died when my son was just a toddler. Our son likely has no memory of his father, beyond the photos now hanging throughout our house. I get sad sometimes, angry others, that he will never really know what Anthony was like. It is a bitter pill that always burns when I swallow it. But I do try to tell him how he is like his father.

Whenever he laughs, in a room by himself, for no apparent reason other than something has made him happy. He is his father’s son.

This week, Booger Meister made up his own jokes. He would say, ‘April’ and the follow it rapidly by the word ‘November.’ And then hoot like a mad owl at how funny he found that juxtaposition. He tried pairing up the rest of the calendar in odd assortments, but nothing was nearly as funny as ‘April’ and ‘November.’ I would repeat each of his utterances, trying to convince him, that, “No, it’s June.” Stubbornly he would refuse to acknowledge that I was right.

With a teenager, you’d better take that picture fast, or the moment is gone. Just like the pizza.

He is so much his father’s son. He orders the same pepperoni pizza. He loves the same Doritos. He hates the same vegetables. And each freckle that appears like a star in a summer night’s sky, reminds me of the man who left us so unexpectedly fourteen years ago. I can trace the constellations his dna left behind, measuring the memories of the past, living out in the present day.

There is sorrow in life. Sometimes there is too much sorrow and it breaks your heart.

But then, another day comes. A baby cousin is born. And even if he will not get to grow up knowing his father, he will live on…in his son’s laugh, or maybe his smile. We won’t know until he is a little older. But take your time, darling boy. Take your sweet time.

Watching Baby “A” and his older sister grow will surely help to heal the broken hearts his father left behind. And maybe they will have to learn to celebrate Father’s Day a different way, like we do.*** Part in memory, but always trying to live up to what we’ve lost. For the love lives on. Yes, the love lives on.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*If the song MY WAY had been written about my father, it would have involved more references to cheeseparing, miserly tendencies and the many uses of duct tape–including wrapping wedding gifts. (I kid you not!)

**In my family, we are a stoic lot descended from dour German pessimists. We aren’t what most people would call overly emotional–until we are–and then we tend to lose any claim to stiff-upper-lippedness.

***Remembering David will require dedicated study of game theory. Whether it is learning the jingling intricacies of the mysterious ‘Disk Golf’ or playing games of conquest using hexagonal cardboard tiles. We will make sure his children know of their father’s greatness. Maybe his son or daughter will have the same odd penchant for naming sheep ‘Phil’ during games of Settlers of Cataan. We can only hope.

12 thoughts on “Being Fatherless on Father’s Day

  1. Such a poignant memoir Kiri, “And each freckle that appears like a star in a summer night’s sky, reminds me of the man who left us so unexpectedly fourteen years ago. I can trace the constellations his dna left behind, measuring the memories of the past, living out in the present day” this poetry stirred my being.. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Dana. I hope you have good memories to keep you aloft when life would pull you down. Sadness can be incredibly heavy to bear. Being able to laugh and reminisce lifts us together.


    1. Thank you, Marian, I am touched by how much my personal stories can connect with other people. I can feel pretty isolated at times, but interactions here make me feel less alone. You are always most welcome.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. It does come easier when it comes from the heart. I should probably strive to connect with that side of me more often. But it can strike me as mawkish to harp on my emotional pain too frequently. It is like salt, best used sparingly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your words always make me stop and reflect – thank you. I still struggle with the absence of my father on Father’s Day and more recently, the absence of my mother on Mother’s Day too. The marketing machine rarely allows space for remembrance – it doesn’t work like that when they’re selling cards or offering deals in family restaurants, does it? All warmest thoughts and wishes to you and your son.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Jools, Exactly. It’s not possible to build a celebration around a loss, so therefore, it isn’t commercially viable. I don’t know what would work, but I wished we had some cultural norm–besides the year of mourning, wearing black traditions–to acknowledge loss. Like the Mexican celebration Dia de la Muerta. I know of it from my mother-in-law having participated in it one November at a local library. It feels a little like appropriation to consider adopting it, but it gives families a time to remember and celebrate those who we have loved and lost. Also, my husband would have totally loved the cool skull motifs that are part of the celebration. Maybe I’ll manage it this year!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I suspect we will need to continue with our private remembrances. I don’t see the greeting card industry doing anything any time soon – and I don’t think that’s at all a bad thing either. But I do rather like your cool skull idea!

        Liked by 1 person

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