Every year, Father’s Day is celebrated by families all around the world. We’ve asked the Power of Love Ministry Staff to share something about their fathers.
Whenever Father’s Day comes up, I’m always greeted with looks of confusion. Because I always celebrate it with my mother.
My parents separated when I was just 8 years old. From then on, my mother took on the role of being our father as well.
Just a few years ago, my father reached out to me. At first, I did not know what to do, what to say. I remember I was so nervous when I mentioned it to my mother. But you know what’s the most surprising thing? My mother encouraged me. Says it’s my right to know my father.
I, however, do not feel the same. What do you say to your father that’s been absent for more than half of your life? What do you say to your father? I don’t know.
That’s why it took almost a few more months before I met with him. Little by little, I warmed up to him. I rebuilt our connection, though I wouldn’t say that we’re close. But we’re getting there.
I still have a lot of unanswered questions. But I now know that I still have a lifetime to get those answers from my father.
At least for now, I have two people to celebrate Father’s day — my mom and my dad.
A Father’s Day Tribute
My father and I had a complex relationship. His own upbringing was challenging because his father was a violent alcoholic. My dad used to say he was raised by wolves.
As a young child, I was a Daddy’s girl for sure, doing whatever I could to make him happy. By age 8, I could whip up a perfect martini. Dad used to say he wasn’t an alcoholic, just alcohol dependent, in our lingo he was self-medicating for sure.
When he was in his 40s he let go of the excessive drinking and began exploring his spiritual side. As a family, we went to many different churches in our area looking for one that spoke to him and my mother. He enrolled us all in a TM (transcendental meditation) program when I was about 13 and we got to experience several spiritual developments retreats and workshops put on by my parents and their friends from the Human Development Center. I remember seeing Ram Dass, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi & Deepak Chopra in the 1970s. I enjoyed having deeper conversations with my dad about life & death and what it was all about.
My dad loved being a grandfather to my son Trey. Teaching him how to enjoy a bottle in the recliner after dinner watching Jeopardy, being Trey’s personal horse on hands and knees through the house, lifting Trey to put the angel atop the Christmas tree , and passing down his tricks to making the best ravioli dough. He always had a smile on his face when Trey was around.
Dad’s retirement may not have been his ideal as we dealt with mom’s recurring and chronic illnesses, but we had weekly family dinners and long walks at Presque Isle State Park to keep each other going until his sudden transition in 2015.
I still have conversations with my dad, they are just a lot quieter than I remember, but he still often gives me signs that he’s around watching and guiding us. As far as the challenges from my childhood, dad apologized when I was a young adult, (as Maya Angelou says, “when you know better, you do better.”), and honestly, with the forgiveness work, we both did while he was in physical form , and even after, all that remains are the memories and the love.
My Father’s Day Healing Story
My parents divorced when I was seven years old so I do not ever remember living with my father. I remember spending Saturday afternoons with my father, my brother, and my sister. We would have so much fun. We would go to movies, amusement parks, sporting events, and whatever fun was to be found.
As I grew older my father moved away and remarried. Although he was always in my life and called us every week, I did not feel very connected to him. We would do the regular, how is school, how is work and did you lose weight conversations but he had another life that left me feeling separated from him. It was as if my father was a stranger.
At 89, my father was semi-retired, played golf a few times a week, and continued to work two days a week as a pharmacist. He exercised regularly and was in great shape. In December 2019, my father had a serious infection that required his knee implant to be removed to heal the infection. Once the infection healed, he had another knee replacement. Unfortunately, because his skin was so thin, the surgeon was unable to close the wound. It took 8 surgeries before they could finally close the wound!
This all took place during the Covid pandemic which meant that my father was alone and we were not able to visit him for 8 months. He had limited physical therapy due to the pandemic so his leg never did heal correctly. He spent his 90th birthday alone, in the nursing home. It was during this time that I found out how strong my father is. He did not complain but was determined to walk again. He kept his mind strong! Unfortunately, when he was released from the nursing home, he was still not able to walk. Now he requires assistance just to get out of bed and is dependent on others to assist him.
Now it is my turn. Every Saturday, I get to hang out with him. I make him breakfast, we chat, we talk about everything, from sports, to current events, the past, his childhood, the future. Although this has dramatically changed my father’s life, today I finally feel connected to him. I have learned so much about him. It is a true miracle, a gift!
Dad, thank you for being a part of my life and providing the love and guidance I’ve needed. Everything you’ve taught me has stuck with me and I’m lucky to have a dad like you.
My father was a GIANT of a man. Not in stature, but in presence. He radiated love and kindness, joy, and a zest for life that he shared with everyone he met. There was rarely a day you would find him without a smile, humming a tune, and moving with a jaunty little step, dancing through his day. No matter where he went, he made friends, with people of all ages, colors, educational backgrounds. We often said that Dad had never met a stranger in his life! He made it a point to ask and greet people by name and remember them. He made you feel like your interaction with him was the most important thing in the world, that you mattered, and making you smile was a personal gift to him. If you had met him, you would remember. He left such an indelible impression on everyone.
I have been a total Daddy’s girl my entire life, which is actually pretty interesting given that my father wasn’t present when I was born. I met my father at age 3 when I emigrated to this country from Ghana, West Africa. My parents tell the story of when I arrived at JFK airport and came into view holding my grandmother’s hand. I suddenly wrested my hand from hers and ran headlong into my father’s arms. Although I had never laid eyes on him, I knew him with all my heart.
Growing up, my father was my personal hero. He was way cooler and more fun than my mother, who always seemed to be worried, anxious, and moody–a total downer. And even though he teased me constantly (in a loving, light-hearted way), I wanted to please my Dad more than anything. He was the one you went to for advice, knowing he would listen deeply and help you sort out your problems. He would tell incredible stories and describe such amazing adventures that you were never quite sure if he was joking or serious. When I saw the movie Forest Gump, my thought was, yup that’s Dad.
As a married adult with children, I came to understand my Dad’s flaws. Although he was extremely slow to anger, once he reached his limit, he could become enraged in a way that felt very scary and out of control. Witnessing this as a child had a tremendous impact on me—I believed that anger was something to suppress and avoid at all costs. Dad could never tolerate any one of his precious family members being in distress, so he “needed” to fix things because of his own discomfort (something I recognize many parents do). He was a brilliant, well-educated man who wrote many manuscripts, but hid them away because they were “never good enough”. Dad could be deeply critical of himself and his efforts. He believed strongly in sacrificing one’s happiness for others, yet often to the detriment of his own health. Finally, he was adamant about the importance of our nuclear family, yet severed all ties with his own family, unwilling to forgive and heal those relationships. In a word, Dad was human.
The most outstanding feature of Dad’s life was his legacy of Love. Dad was deeply grateful for every one of his years, telling me shortly before he died, that growing up he never believed he would live past age 20. Having a family and most of his astounding life adventures (he spoke multiple languages and traveled far and wide) weren’t even possibilities he could have imagined as a young man. Therefore, he considered every day beyond his 20s to be an incredible gift. He lived until age 75, appreciative of his life and abundance of blessings.
I am a physician, so I was present in the room when the medical team worked to resuscitate my father for over 40 minutes. As I watched, I knew exactly what A Course in Miracles Workbook meant in the many lessons where we are asked to affirm that we are not bodies (“I am not a body”). My father was long gone before his body officially failed a day later. I know with surety that he did his best to keep a foot in this realm to allow my mother even a little time to say goodbye.
My heart was greatly at peace when he passed; so much so, that to others it appeared that I was denying my grief. Sometimes, I was questioned if I even felt sad at his passing. Of course, I did. But just as I knew my father before I had seen him, I feel my Dad’s presence always with me. As the final speaker at his funeral, I began my remarks by singing the first couple of verses of the song, “Unforgettable”. The version by Nat King Cole was a favorite of mine and Dad’s; we had danced and sung this to each other at my wedding. Everyone in the church knew I spoke (sang) the truth, for Kojo Afenyi-Annan truly, was unforgettable.
On this Father’s Day, I continue to remember my Dad as a beautiful example of how to fully show up, 100% for life and others, with joy in your heart, filled with gratitude and wonder for every day of your life.