October 4, 2023

On Father’s Day

By Sonya D. Lavett

Father’s Day is a day of mixed emotions for me personally. My dad passed away in 2003 and one of the last days that he was able to speak with me before he died was on Father’s Day of that year. I lost him to cancer about a week after our last conversation. It took me a very long time to accept the fact that he is no longer here, but I am now able to look at our time together on earth and remember how fortunate I was to have him in my life.

When we know we are losing someone so important to us in our lives, all of the past hurts and silly memories of feeling angry over something suddenly seem so trivial and unimportant. The things that used to anger me when I was growing up do not even compare to the feelings of love and appreciation that I have for him as my dad. I remember all of the little things that now mean so much to me, but did not at the time.

Things like teaching me to swim when I was four years old or memories of him taking me to the library when I was just learning to read and my discovery in appreciating a good book. My dad’s study was filled with books. Everywhere we went, he had to stop at the local bookstore or load up on used books any place he could buy them. My dad was a do-it-yourselfer. If he wanted something done or wanted to learn something, he simply read up on it and figured it out on his own.

He loved building things, like his floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in his beloved study and the decks that led out to the pool. He even built a pool house in the back. Aside from reading, he had other interests, such as art and music. He taught himself how to play the guitar and he would write his own music and lyrics then record himself playing and singing in his little study.

He also had an interest in making wine, so he read up on that and then my sister and I would pick plums from the tree and bring them to him. The first few tries were not great, but he kept at it. One evening, I remember my mom’s surprise when my dad got his fermentation formula a little wrong and the jug blew up in the coat closet. According to my mom, it was a total disaster and I’m fairly certain we had to buy new winter coats that year and repaint the inside of the closet.

The point is, my dad did not let that mistake prevent him from continuing to do the things he loved. He continued making wine and perfecting his formula over time. Pretty soon, the neighbors and family members would come over and sample his creation; they loved it.

Another hobby of my dad’s was painting. It never mattered to my dad that his paintings were not on the level of Van Gogh. It didn’t matter that he would never record an album and become rich from his talented voice. He did these things because he simply enjoyed doing them and he was unafraid to sing and play in front of family, friends and guests. He was unafraid to be himself. I really admire that about him. Now that I’m an adult and a parent too, I look back at these times and feel happy and sad. Happy that I had the opportunity to learn from my dad; sad that I didn’t have more time to enjoy with him.

As Father’s Day approaches, I think about what my father was demonstrating for me in living his life. He was showing me a couple of things. First, be self-reliant. Don’t depend on others to just show you how to do something, but rather, take a chance and see what you can learn on your own. Second, don’t be afraid to try new things; if they are things that are worthwhile to your happiness, never give up on them.

I think these are wonderful messages to share with anyone. If there is something you want to pursue, or learn, or try, then find a way to do it. Don’t beat yourself up when errors occur because they will from time to time. Never, ever give up on the things that mean something to you. So much of life is made up of things that are difficult to achieve and most of those things that are so hard to obtain are the very things that are the most meaningful.

Our dreams are those personal concepts that have real value to us. They are the reasons we continue to create goals for ourselves and strive to achieve them. We may stumble at times, but if they are worth believing in, then they are worth achieving.

Did your father teach you something of value or is he still teaching you to this day? On Father’s Day, honor your dad and let him know that you are thinking of him. Even if he showed you something small and seemingly insignificant, if it had an impact on your life in some way, share that with him. Sometimes the smallest things in our lives end up being the greatest things in our lives.

To all of the amazing fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day!