I’ll get to the well wishes later… if I feel like it.
For 15 of my 32 years of life I have loved Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Well let’s be a bit more specific. Until I was 15 I had a very exuberant attachment to Mother’s and Father’s Day. You already know my general story when it comes to my adoption so as you can probably guess I attached a lot of my feeling of being wanted to the fact that I was adopted at 3 months old, which when you do the math means it was getting finalised in May and June. SO May and June have great days because my parents loved me so much they picked me(save your awwws this is not my point).
For 16 of my 32 years of life, I have come as close to neutrally despising this day as one human can. misanthropy aside I don’t have some kind of villainous bile for most holidays and people celebrating them. Today really is the only exception to that. I loathe to be anywhere today. And I don’t really have a choice in the matter. I never have. Mom and I will go to church. We’ll inevitably do something after, possibly make a stop at the cemetery, and come home where I’ll have more things to do like prepare tomorrow’s blog post for publishing(it was done a while ago) and of course at some point someone will say something to officially piss me off on social media related to today.
So for a guy who has a bit of hero worship when it comes to his parents, why do I hate Father’s day? The answer is so simple I’m surprised you still need me to spell it out for you. I hate today because of how disrespectful people are of it. Origins aside(Mother’s Day started as an attempt to recognize mothers who died, and Father’s day was a marketing gimmick to sell more shirts and ties), these holidays are everywhere in the US…well not really, are they?
While Mother’s day is often so lauded that restaurants need additional staff, and people make massive overtures in public speeches Father’s Day often gets tossed aside or given a lot of oddly enough deals on shirts and ties. But the commercialization isn’t really the crux of my issue. It is the people. John Q. Annoying Public. I can already tell you at least 3 people on my newsfeed who are otherwise calm rational, sane, and by my estimation good people, will say something about Father’s Day, Fathers, and men in general that will not only send me into a friend list culling micro-rage, but that if the reverse was said on Mother’s day would incite riots in their locale.
There are people who I understand why they don’t have a good day today. that one year difference was the year I was numb. Numb with abject horror and absolute distraught sorrow that “everyone else had a Dad and I didn’t anymore.” And it was something that I cannot describe properly to you. I cherish my Mother. She’s m biggest fan, the loudest supporter, and one of the few people no matter what I know, not think, I can trust. But she’s never said something that came off as I shouldn’t honor who my Father was, both good and bad, both positive and negative. And on Father’s Day she gives me a moment or two to hero worship like I do her on Mother’s Day. Because they both earned it.
SO when people run down Dads, today, and men in general it gets into that angry place I don’t show the public often. Worse still are those who are so blinded with past slights that they can’t even contact their Father. Now I’m not talking about child abusing women beating, molesting, violent, murderers and sycophants here. If your Father was the kind of person you needed psychological help forgetting he is worth never remembering. No I’m talking about little birds who flew the nest over some ideological stance on something, or change in values brought on by college, I’m talking about the ones who have so much pride because of what they were told about their father by everyone else they refuse to make an effort, but know he’s somewhere nearby.
Those people and one other group make posts like this easy to write(seriously 12 minutes 44seconds). Because you don’t realize how damn lucky you are. Because I know I’m not the only one who sat at a graduation, or an award ceremony, or on a Monday night in the fall, Sunday afternoon in the summer, Saturday morning in the dead or winter, or just some random Wednesday; wishing they could have one more phone call, one more ride in the car, one more person clapping, one more congratulations, or in my case one more voice telling me, “it’s going to be okay, you are my son and I love you.” When I think of all the moments I could have used that, even I fight to hold back tears. SO you can imagine how angry I get with this despicable #EndFathersDay stuff, this general attitude “it is okay to take a wholesome fiber filled shit on Father’s Day cause what did they ever do?” that permeates American culture as of late.
And I hate today because a part of me will always wonder why everyone else gets something I can never have again. Why they can have a happy celebration of one of the parents who taught them everything. That won’t go away because I know the price of the throne I sit on, and if I’m honest I have to admit it is not worth the cost. Sometimes you have to take stock and ask yourself if you would trade everything you’ve accomplished, everything you’ve created, everything you are now for 1 change in your life. It is a freeing thing to know what you value. And for 17 of my 32 years I have said nothing from before is worth who I am now except for one thing. Because I would trade every day from November 14th, 1997 to this every day right now and everything I’ve ever gotten since, for my Dad to walk in that door in a suit and drive Mom and I to church. Not for the rest of my life, but for just one more time.
SO if it is possible for you to talk to your Dad today. If it is in your power. Do it. Both the feeling you will have, and the difference it will make for both of you well…Words Don’t Do It Justice.
And even though I said I would not turn this into a place to push my poems, I will today. Because both my parents encouraged me to write. This Prose poem is going in my upcoming book “Stories I Told Myself” and its called Playing with his clubs.
– THE Ruthless Wonder
Playing with his clubs
I like to imagine these things were out there with him at the most important of moments, like he kissed my mother and went to play the day he decided that they were going to get married. I see him out playing with this driver that I can barely handle because it’s made for a man that even though he is gone still towers over me. His strong arms and love hold me like I’m 4 again on his shoulders, while really I envision him playing Sunday afternoon rounds with the legends I call Golden Bear, and “The King” Palmer, and Watson. I hold this almost ancient by golf standards “Titlest 1” and see him adjusting for the wind and making some random joke about his new son Matthew while he gets ready to tee off.
His frame still like that of a Quarterback, his afro more out of place than I am right now on this course, and the smell of Lagerfeld or Aramis in the air as he smashes some drive like it looked at him funny. My approach isn’t nearly as beautiful as I imagine his as. And even though I shouldn’t be, I make his perfect like he is some 1980’s Tiger Woods. It isn’t like I can’t remember his swing from all the company tournaments but as I imagine him from before he had to be my personal superhero, I feel like fudging the facts just a tad. Holding his old driver in my hand is like getting another hug, swinging it is like trying to learn from watching him again. I can’t help but make him some hardcore golfer, can’t stop myself from making these clubs some kind of oddly shaped sports time machine to when he was playing to get his head cleared. As I watch my ball going hooking right into the rough, I see his hugging the fairway and landing like it was a runway for all the old thoughts and mythos of who he is.
Every moment I am forced to even touch this tan and brown leather bag that screams of Shaft, and Superfly, and Marvin Gaye, and five thousand other random 70’s references and clichés that I’m certain if I thought about it probably have no actual bearing on this round, or the rounds he likely played, I have to fight the tide of emotions that threaten to consume me and break me from nostalgia and sentimental remembrance to a lump of tears. And so I go back to seeing the round he would have played here. Drive this cart like he used to let me drive when I was a shade older over to my ball so I can try and catch where his is. I hear him laugh about cars now, that laugh that always reduced me to little more than a complete child, unable to do more than giggle and give him a smile, unable to feel anything but safe as I imagine him telling Tom Watson he’s coming for him, and I look at my two friends who wonder what the hell I’m doing. Each club is a different story about him, telling how he relaxed and got free of the wife and kids for a few hours to teach these “fellas” a lesson about golf in Missouri. Maybe I’m projecting my own Bravado on him and maybe not, but I see his shot on this Par 5 18 leap into the air and arch like the Gateway in St. Louis before plopping down on the green and rolling back towards the hole. Shock all over those legends faces, while my friends can only laugh as my own finds more rough on the left. He’s shaking off all the problems I never saw him have to deal with because I was so young.
Every swing is getting rid of bills, and worries, and doubts. Every stroke pushing the inevitable just beyond him so he can get a chance to be a golfer, while I stand here struggling to even hold the mammoth irons and woods to take a shot. He’d probably be laughing at me too, but in that way father’s laugh, telling you that he thinks it great that you’re trying but clearly your energy should be spent getting your own clubs around your own height so that you aren’t standing so far back. I see him wait as Jack and Arnold try to catch up but end up with the close kind of birdie putts you expect from them in the crunch. He and Tom both eagle and I end up finally focusing on my own game to get a par to at least act like I can hang with my friends on this last hole. 14 clubs, about 20 balls, a bunch of tees, all in this bag of memories, all giving me a vision of him that I know didn’t happen, but that I probably needed. To at least make him my superhero one more time as I play with my father’s golf clubs.
-Matthew Elisha Williams