On mothers, fathers and special days

Ed Smith
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Father’s Day was last Sunday.

I’m always a week behind with this stuff. Any satisfaction I have is that I am two weeks behind on Mother’s Day. I have a wee bit of a problem with this Mother’s Day-Father’s Day routine. I think Father’s Day gets the dirty end of the stick.

Take, for example, the announcement that appeared in the Sunday bulletin of a certain church. Not saying who, not saying where.

“A meeting of Little Mothers will take place in the church hall on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Anyone wishing to become a little mother is invited to meet with the minister at 6 p.m. in his office.”

Now tell me, where in any church have you seen an invitation of any kind directed to Little Fathers? Don’t tell me there aren’t any.

I can see where inviting “Big Mothers” might be risky.

As far as inviting those who would like to become little fathers is concerned, that would only be inappropriate if the minister were male. Many high quality clergy in these days are women and quite capable of handling any role demanded of them. I would be the last to suggest that women clergy were not as capable as their male counterparts in this or any other part of the ministry.

Let’s talk about Father’s Day and fathers.

All kinds of songs are written about mothers and how great and wonderful they are. Which is true. My own mother, God bless her, was a shining example of all that and more.

If you want to write something that would bring tears to a glass eye, write about the beautiful love in a mother’s heart for even a wayward son.

“Oh, where is my wandering boy tonight/the child of my tenderest care.

“Come, come home it’s suppertime.”

Of course, I went to the Internet and discovered no fewer than 100 songs about mothers. Enough to break your heart. Nigh on 100 songs about fathers, too. Some of were quite nice.

There are:

“Oh My Papa” — Eddie Fisher

“Daddy Sang Bass” — Johnny Cash

“My Old Man’s a Dustman” — My Fair Lady

Some were not. There was one about a father who didn’t let his daughter in from the storm and she died. “Mary Of the Wild Moor.” Touching.

Actually, there are all kinds of father’s songs as well. Our minister prayed for the whole works Father’s Day morning. There were the fathers who ran away from home, leaving their wives with three or four dozen screeching kids to raise on their own with no income and practically no help.

Our minister actually prayed for that lot, although you could tell his heart wasn’t really in it. Mine wasn’t, and I have a forgiving type soul.

Then there was the father who found himself with two or three children that belonged to his current woman by one or two more men from a previous marriage or her wilder days. This gentleman is in the habit of withholding little things like love and financials support and parental guidance, unless it’s in the form of a board studded with pine knots and applied with vigour to the victim’s rear end. We all prayed for him, too, poor man.

I don’t remember during Mother’s Day praying for the wayward mothers of the world. I think we pretended they didn’t exist. But they do. Mothers who mistreat their children, who sometimes keep watch while their husbands sexually abuse their daughters.

Or who simply run off leaving the family to its own devices and/or a heroic father who raises them as best he can.

I know what you’re thinking and you are right — they all need praying for. And perhaps if they had had more support from family, from church, from community, they wouldn’t have turned out that way. Perhaps, perhaps not. You all know of similar circumstances. What do you think?

So, where does all this leave us on Father’s Day, 2013? It leaves us eternally grateful that we were raised in a home where the father was the constant presence in the form of a God-fearing individual who treated his children with affection, even if he didn’t say “I love you” every day.

Who taught his children to respect all human kind and not be judgmental of people with different creeds and different skin colour and different headgear. Who taught his children to protect the weaker among us, and especially to respect and protect women — mothers, sisters, wives, friends and women we do not know personally.

Allow me a moment to speak of my own father. He was a big, strong man who could handle practically anything other men could throw at him. Yet, he taught me, his son, never to start physical altercations and to walk away if at all possible when other people started them.

But when one found himself in some kind of physical altercation that one could not get out of, I was told to give it my all but never to hurt another when he proved to be weaker than me.

I was told that to get into a fight to protect another person was honorable, and when the odds seemed overwhelming, to remember always that “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the fight in the dog that matters.”

In my second year at living as a student in Halifax and having to walk home alone from Dalhousie many dark nights, I found the practical truth of that teaching. Whether the opponents were a couple of drunks outside a tavern or a gang of several young men looking for trouble, I applied my father’s teaching and tried to do what he would have done. Almost always, it worked.

My sister and I are grateful for the father and mother we had.

Happy Parent’s Day to all.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.  His email address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Geographic location: Little Fathers, Halifax, Springdale

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