First off, Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there.
This Father's Day found me somewhat reflective. First of all, I had to work much of the day. Teresa has been sick for a week, so I've also tried to juggle doing what I can around the house and seeing to her needs. Needless to say, our original plans for the day were definitely subjected to change.
For some reason, this year I also spent some time thinking about my own father who was, in a sense, the father I never knew.
I saw my father for the last time in the spring of 1962, the spring after I turned five. I left to go to kindergarten, and when I got home he was no longer there, at least not physically. But for years, he was always with me.
Perhaps I should say that the idea of my father was always with me since, being five at the time he left, my memories of our time together are not all that plentiful.
At the time, the explanation from my mother was that my father decided he could not handle having a family. So he left. The truth, it turns out, was apparently something much different.
Suffice to say that it appears criminal acts were involved, leading to a stretch in prison. Details, though, are a bit hard to come by fifty years after the fact. What is a fact is that for years I blamed myself for my father's departure because I had no other story to fall back on.
Beyond that, however, I think that I never really learned how to be a son. In some ways, I think I tried to grow up at age five, when I wasn't really ready to be grown up.
The flip side of that is that is that I never really learned how to apply the lessons and experiences that come from a father-son relationship when I became a father. As a child without a father to bond with, I withdrew and became somewhat distant as a means of protecting myself.
The result is that I sometimes have trouble getting close to my own son. Some of that is that I don't really know how to relate to him sometimes because of his autism. Most of it is my own difficulties in getting close to others.
Now to cut myself a little slack. I think I am a better father to my son than my father was to me. The main reason is that I am still around, so there is always a chance to get it right. We occasionally argue, we sometimes laugh, we each sometimes dig in our heels. But through it all, we are still together in a way my father and I never were - as father and son.