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Musing about Father’s Day

“June 19, 1910 -The Day Set and the Rose Flower to Wear”

The Enid Morning News, 18 Jun 1910, Sat · Page 4

Did you wear your rose today as suggested? When I think about the idea of special days put forth to honor our parents, I give pause and wonder where the tradition came from. Mother's Day and, subsequently, Father's Day are both heavily steeped in the Christian faith, and since 1972 they have somewhat become just another "Hallmark Holiday."

When Mrs. J.B. Todd conjured up the idea for "Father's Day," she circulated it nationally under the auspices of the Young Mens Christian Alliance of the Northwest. She asked everyone to wear a rose to honor the father's place in the home as protector of the family and marriage and mentor to the children. To honor his faith and patriotism. As I read the clipping quoted above, I am distracted by the food advertising in the next column, thinking about the sting of misogyny and heavy-handedness of faith that flooded over me in the 4-paragraph request to "wear a rose." It wasn't just this article; all of them were similarly stated. I do know they are poignant of the era.

While I love my parents deeply, I have an emotional battle with the celebrations of these days. It started when I was eighteen. I had an overzealous and annoying college suitemate who flaunted her relationship with her dad every chance she got, despite being a suitemate nine months earlier when I lost my father, two weeks into my freshman year. It hit me in the card store that year. I bought him a card without thinking. I still have that card somewhere. When I became a mom a few short years later, there was suddenly a battle for who got top billing for the day. It just became an extra source of unneeded stress in my life. I realized; it would never be a relaxing day for me. The same was not true for my ex-husband. I digress. I am happy to give thanks and grace to my mom, who is now in her mid-80s, on Mother's Day.

Today is interesting. I miss my grandfather, who I called Grampy. If we happened to spend the day with him, we undoubtedly went to the beach, gathering afterward for cocktails and oysters on the back porch. I also miss my kid's other grandfather, who was always like a father to me when I met my ex-husband a few short years after my father died. Jerry was a creature of habit. He usually did one of two things on Father's Day. He would go fishing, sometimes taking the kids surf casting at Captree State Park or just pulling up a chair at the reservoir down the street. He'd always freak out if he caught anything, which was hardly ever. I think he just liked to sit and listen to the kids' chatter in the quiet. Sometimes he would opt for a day at the Bronx Zoo, arriving just in time to feed the sea lions. My son Justin spent the day at the zoo today with his father-in-law and two boys. He told me that was one of the reasons why.

It goes without saying. I miss my dad. However, I lost him so early in my life that sometimes it's hard to remember who he was. The soft spots remain—a romanticized version. While I know his granddaughter would be the apple of his eye, I wonder what he would think about his grandsons, and especially his great-grandsons. I have my thoughts based on the type of person I remember. Honestly, that is unfairly inaccurate. I know this because of my own relationship with my grandsons. It is far different than the one I have with my sons. He was, however, the best listener, something I strive to accomplish someday. I wonder what he would have had to say about politics and the church. I do think I know the answer to that one; he'd be both furious and disheartened. My dad, a geologist/educator, would have been 93 this Father's Day. He was an original foodie. He taught me a lot about deciphering the nuances of recipes as they travel from one location to another. He taught me about rocks. I so wish I remembered that chemistry better. He taught me a love of artifacts and objects. He had a passion for the garden. On that note, I wish he could see and smell the roses I am growing or see the copious amounts of horseradish I hardly ever harvest. He would smile at the roses and probably want to take me back to the Farmer's Market in Lancaster to stand in front of Long's until I was balling both uncomfortably and uncontrollably.

The flower for Mother's Day is a carnation. The food news that distracted me? Ch'cken Tamales in a can, Red Snapper Chow-Chow Seasoning for Fish Meats, and Blackwell's Mushroom or Walnut Katsup.

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