Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

Missing My Dad and Becoming a Better Dad on Father’s Day

dad gets seriousSeveral months ago when my 25+ year mentor died of cancer I took my kids with me to the wake. I thought it was good for them to be touched, ever so lightly, by the idea that people die. And I knew that they would bring a bit of kid-light into the house while we were there.

Yesterday when I showed them my post about LiveStrong and my dad I was slightly surprised that they had no idea what the yellow wristband meant. They had not heard of LiveStrong. (of course, they are 10 and 8) And explaining my idea for remembering my father over the next 30 days, they both seemed distracted, or uninterested. I was important. But the concept of this grandfather, never met, who died of some disease, not really understood or felt, was a bit too far off for a Saturday afternoon. (understandable)

And then I asked them if they remembered the afternoon we visited the man’s house who had recently died. They both did.

“It’s sort of like that. He’s gone already, but we still love him and want to remember him.”

And then we were off to the swimming pool on a 105 degree summer afternoon.

Today is Father’s Day 2011. My father has been gone since I was 21 years old. I sometimes envy friends who still enjoy dad-time. But mostly I am happy for them. And I look for my dad-time in others. It is not often that I look for dad-time by being reflective of MY dad. I spent a good deal of my 20’s and 30’s doing that.

But today is different. Death has spirited off another wonderful man and I am left fatherless again.

What I want for my kids is to have much better memories of me than I do of my dad. And in the shortness of it all, if I only had another 11 years with my son, for example, I really need to make it REAL. And part of that realness is self-awareness for me about my father, feelings around the loss of my father, and even in some ways a better awareness of the cancer that took his life.

While I was at the coast with my kids last week I made an impromptu PSA about wearing sunshirts in the summer. It wasn’t a publicity stunt. It was just a moment where I woke up on the beach and said, “Wow, if my dad had been wearing these kind of shirts, if we’d just known…” And in my sharing fashion I wanted to honor that thought.

This 30 day memorial is similar in its discovery. I am not doing a “branding” experiment, but branding is something I do. It’s something I understand. And the LiveStrong “brand” is something that I am quite curious about. And I’m in marketing. So when the little yellow wristbands took over the country I was fascinated by the program, message, reach, and impact of the concept. I didn’t join in.

So today I’m joining the LiveStrong army. I don’t know much about LiveStrong or all the things they do. But there are two significant things that connect us. 1. I understand branding and the development of social communities; 2. my inclusion in the LifeStrong family is as simple as putting on the yellow wristband. As a marketer I really am curious about the “value” of the yellow wristband in generating awareness for LifeStrong and cancer support and community.

As a person who’s life has been impacted by cancer, I really want to feel the connection with others. I want to talk about it. I want to hear about their stories. I want to connect. And from my limited understanding of the LiveStrong mission, I think this is one of the main objectives, I want connection.

So today, in honor of my dad, I’m putting on my LiveStrong wristband and I’m going to tell his story, Dan Jones’ story, and I’m going to LISTEN. Most of all I want to listen. To the connections that are formed by such a simple symbol. A thin yellow band that took the world by storm.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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