Although it has been almost 20 years since my father passed on to spirit, every Father's Day I get a bit teary-eyed and have a pang in my solar plexus that reminds me he is gone. I tend to feel a bit vulnerable on this day and I like to take time for contemplation and nurturing.
For the ancient Egyptians Geb, the earth god, was the father of the gods and represented abundance and authority, while in the Celtic tradition Daghda was honored as the father god. The Greek "father of the gods," Zeus, had a dual nature. As the father of many children, he could be protective and generous, sewing the fetus Dionysus into his own thigh and carrying him until he could be born. Yet his dark side was one of intimidation and harshness -- lashing out at his children whenever he was frustrated.
So what happens on Father's Day when your memories are mixed? I know I feel a longing to have had the kind of father who taught me how to take care of myself physically and financially as well as supporting me unconditionally and encouraging my growth.
Well that didn't happen. I am smart enough (and have had enough therapy and spiritual teachers) to know that he did the best he could with the resources he had. My brother Mark, on the other hand, models the new masculine and has taken on the role of nurturer and teacher to his daughter Shayla. He has very few "have tos" and has plenty of "want tos." Shayla is growing up with a new model of a father: Someone who simply does what needs to be done without worrying about gender roles.
Shortly after my Dad passed I went into the woods with my brother to do a letting go ritual. I wanted to "bury the hatchet " between us and for some bizarre reason my brother actually had my father's hatchet. (Why a man from Great Neck and South Florida had a hatchet is beyond my understanding). So I physically buried it. My brother had a different issue. He no longer wanted to "walk in my father's footsteps" so he buried one of my father's shoes. I can't tell you how liberating that ritual was for both of us.
This Sunday l personally will be lighting a candle for my father -- letting myself feel the sadness of his passing. And I always like to eat one of his favorite foods. This year it may be Chinese soup or a piece of halvah. I plan on writing down a list of what I learned from him and what qualities I want to claim as my own. After all it is my inheritance.
Whatever you decide to do for this holiday, enjoy the celebration and the men you cherish. As my brother Mark, a father of three, so wisely said to me, "The best present for me is always feeling loved and included and appreciated. Gifts are quite secondary."