Father’s Day falls pretty low on my favorite holiday list. And I almost didn’t write anything at all because there are so many beautiful things being written about fathers and dads and papas, and nothing in me wants to take away the joy that people feel when they think about the men who raised them.

My dad skipped out around age two and flitted in and out of my life, mostly drunk until I was seven. Big happy celebratory fireworks do not go off in my heart when this holiday rolls around.  It has been a mostly empty holiday for me most of my life, save one year when I was about ten. I bought my mom a Father’s Day card and wrote a note of appreciation for the ways she had tried to fill in the dad gap in our lives. I saved it until late in the day, almost bed time, because I knew she’d cry. And she did and I brushed off her thank you’s and hugs and went to bed.

There were men in my life while I was growing up to be certain, plenty of them. There was Papaw, he was around, steady and quiet, gardening and playing checkers. He was most certainly a Papaw though, and not a dad.  There were uncles, two of them, big and strong and funny.  Caring- yes. Fathers- no, at least not mine.  And then there were the guys, so many guys, in and out of my life, all around my mom and her friends. I still shiver at the thought; they were not good guys.

And then about ten years ago I had this baby boy. And then there was a dad to celebrate. And he was a pretty good dad. And I loved him dearly, and he loved his boy and the rest that followed as best he could. And then he dropped out for the most part. “I really like not having all that responsibility” is what he said when he’d been gone a week. And so if I am quite honest, the last couple of years I’ve filled it with bitterness.

All of this to say- as an adult there are plenty of absolutely wonderful men who have come into my life. There are outstanding fathers and amazing dads all around me. And some of them have even reached out a time or two to father me.  And when fathering is missing from your childhood it looks and feels strange and awkward and warm and fantastic.

When you are twenty-seven the first time you really feel fathered by a man, it is quite gripping, and foreign, and moving. I still remember clearly, this great man that I love more than words was protective of me, and it silenced me and brought me to tears (no small feat since I am terrible at being quiet and even worse at crying). It made me realize that my past is my past though.  I am not living in it anymore. And though there is much to grieve about my childhood, I can choose not to let it determine how I spend my present.

When you are twenty nine the first time you realize there is plenty to celebrate on Father’s Day and you are free to do with it what you will, it’s pretty sweet. I have pseudo-families galore. I am loved well by Amazing Friends. And my job, photographing life, allows so many great peeks into the beauty of fatherhood.  Also, I’ve been adopted by one Great Dad, the realest Father I know. And the sweet thing is, He allows me to choose how I spend my time. If I took the day to grieve He would love me no less. If I spent the time doing nothing at all, He would smile upon me still. I get to choose what I focus on. 

My life is full of Love and spending a day dwelling on what I don’t have or didn’t have seems like a waste of time. I have grieved those losses time and again.  An opportunity to celebrate is honestly, quite welcomed. So- Happy Father’s Day to all of the truly outstanding men that I know. To the ones who have directly impacted me with compassion and love and to the ones that I learn from as I watch them live such great lives- The world is no doubt a better place because of you.


11 Comments to “Fathers”

  1. Let me see, beautiful sentiments formed from the ashes of a fatherless life? Check.

  2. I think the way you wrap your heart around words is why I love you without really knowing you …. yet!

  3. loved it Amber. nothing speaks better than that which spills authentically from the soul.

  4. Am, I read one of your blogs, (the one about the circus pony) to Dad, and he cried….(don’t tell him I told you, but he did). He loved the time when we were all together, and he was astonished by the nice, kind and loving words you had about him. I’m sorry you didn’t have a “dad” in your life, but he loved being a father figure to all you girls. He wasn’t the most loving man in the world, but he tried. I know what you wrote wasn’t to take that away, but I thought I’d share that with you. He feels a little bit better about himself knowing you had a positive time with us. Love you, Am!

  5. I’m glad you think so, I do too. I’m glad that everything is working out for you and you’re so happy now. I’m glad you’ve got a good man and that God is making such beautiful waves in your life. We love you, don’t ever forget that! You’re a wonderful mother, beautiful role model and you’ve helped so many people with their path to Jesus, I’m sure (if we took a poll) it would be unreal. You’re an inspiration to us all, and God is really using you to the fullest.
    Love you!

  6. Amber~ so glad I took the time to read this. Father’s Day is to celebrate Fathers! Yes, it is! However, turning the stone up on the other side of the emotions it brings to those who have faced another reality can be somewhat harrowing. You took both and made a somewhat lovely combination, if I do say so myself. Also….love the John Mayer link. 🙂

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