Father’s Day is near. It is a day when we heap a little extra love upon Dad. I know it is true, because I have a lot of neckties to prove it. I am a dad that looks forward to the phone calls and cards I receive. I hear from one or two of the grandchildren, which is a delight to my day. They grow so fast. But on Father’s Day, my thoughts often turn toward my memory of my own father who has been deceased over 20 years.
My dad lived a life of struggle, given the challenges he had to face with racism, his relationships and the grind of working a job he didn’t much care for most of his life. He did a stint in the Navy, something he always spoke of with pride. He and my mom purchased a home on a street in what was then, a part of developing Bloomfield. They moved when my Mom was pregnant with me. Even though he moved his young family to Bloomfield, so much of his life, both work and leisure was still rooted in Hartford.
He took up selling life insurance for a while to supplement his income. He found ways to celebrate life as he was a man who loved to engage with friends, his social club and live as high on the hog as he thought that he could, but honestly, at times, too much so. He had real inner conflict, divorce and too much drink, but he never lost his sense of humor or his determination to do better on the day that came next. I remember visiting him for the very last time, as I stood over his hospital bed. I drove all night to get there. I was seeking to offer him some cheer and a comforting word, but it was my dad who helped me understand and accept what would come next. I loved him flaws and all. He was my dad.
One important lesson that I learned from my father was a simple one. He wasn’t big on giving advice, but his life taught me that what one is, the kind of person one is, is as important as what one does. I learned from him that sometimes the words we speak are never as loud as the things we do. I think I have learned that fatherhood is about seeking to set a good example, Sometimes, we do and sometimes we just don’t, but the challenge is to keep trying. My dad taught me that fatherhood is about helping your children find their own path and encouraging them as they journey on it. Because of these things, my dad’s fathering was a success.
Ours was not the perfect American family. Neither is the family I have sought to nurture and grow either. Neither is your family perfect, no matter how great we think it is, or it’s make up. Fatherhood, parenting is still simply about trying your best, continuing to be there through the conflicts and challenges, being as present as you can with your children, if need be, paying your child support, remembering birthdays and holidays, letting them know that you are dad, that your love is real. Happy Father’s Day! Get ready to receive a new necktie. Don’t forget to smile and let your child know it is the very best present you have ever received.
Rev. Stephen W. Camp,
Faith Congregational Church
2030 Main Street, Hartford
Join us for Men’s Weekend at Faith
June 24 and 25th
Big Saturday Jazz Concert – free will offering
with Emery Austin Smith and friends – 2pm at Faith Church
Special worship on Sunday morning at 10am – Don’t miss any of it!
We Offer Extravagant Welcome To You.