Recently, my neighbour died. It was unexpected. We were shocked. When I gave the tragic news to my son, his first reaction was: Dad, what will we do without Mr. Link?
On this Fathers day, my thoughts are with Waldemar Link. Waldemar was not only a good neighbour but he was like a father to us and grandpa to our children. When we moved into his neighbourhood 15 years ago, Waldemar and his wife Herta showed us the selfless true spirit of good neighbourhood. Whether it was to mend a fence, check a leaking roof, build a deck, take care of the dying cedar trees or check the mail and look after the house during our holidays, they were always there.
Just a week before he died, Waldemar was there helping my son, Hussein, get a CB radio antenna cable into his room through a tiny hole in a window. If we had a problem in the house or the backyard, our first reaction was: Let us check with Mr. Link!
On Fathers Day, we usually pay tribute to our real fathers. My father died nine years ago. My wifes father died one year ago. Both had long and happy life except at the end when they suffered from painful illnesses that made their life uncomfortable. Both were lucky to live long enough to see their large families grow and settle down in life. Both were quite satisfied before their death that they had fulfilled their role in life as good fathers. They were always there when we needed them. And they gave us the security and education to be independent in life.
We were lucky to have our fathers when we were growing. But what about those young children whose fathers have been taken away from them by accident or illness? And there are fathers who have chosen to abandon their children due to reasons, which are difficult to understand by third parties. Then there are fathers who have committed or continue to commit acts of terror on their children. These young children are being raised in one parent family. Do we really understand how they feel on this day or rest of the year?
What about single parent fathers who struggle to be good mothers as well? Does society understand and appreciate these fathers?
Most fathers try very hard to be good role models for their children. But not all fathers are paragons of virtue. We, as fathers, make mistakes like other humans. But the important thing is to learn from these mistakes. Fathers day should be that day of reflection to see where we failed and where we can make a difference. What counts is the learning process of self-improvement. There are no schools for fathers to train except what our own fathers taught us. Are we true to those teachings?
Sonora Smart Dodd started Fathers Day on June 19th, 1910. Sonora was raised by her father after her mothers death. Sonoras father was born in June. So, for 90 years, third Sunday of the month has been celebrated as Fathers Day. On June 18th, 2000 let us reflect on our past and plan a future for our children so that they can carry our message to their children.
Happy Fathers Day!
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