Almost 11 years ago, I received my author’s copy of my book, Daddin’: The Verb of Being a Dad and gave the first copy to my oldest son a day later as we all waited in hospital waiting room for the birth of his first born. A torch was passed. Actually, it wasn’t. Just like a match moves from candle to candle on a birthday cake, the torch of daddin’ moves from son to son, continuing the light, not passing it off. And for those men who are not daddin’, they are father figures to others whether they know it or not.
Daddin’ is a verb covering the things that are done in the moments, not just the title of “father.” I came up with the verb in my journal in 1998 because dads needed a verb. Mothers mother. Their verb connotes tenderness, nurturing and caring; however, “fathering” merely connotes procreation. I used the verb in a story in my book Listen to Life: Wisdom in Life’s Stories in 2005. From those perspectives, I look at today with three sons, six grandchildren and all carry a bit of the light that my dad passed to me.
My dad didn’t get much, if any, good light from his father. It seemed to me that dad made his own match, lit it in his marriage to my mom, and together they created a family where the match could move from candle to candle. He wasn’t perfect. No one is. He fought demons borne in the challenging conditions of growing up very poor, and that was before the Great Depression exacerbated tough times. The death of their first-born daughter at the age of five to leukemia right after World War II added more pressure. His gravestone reads “He left us a most noble pattern.” Despite it all, a noble pattern.
Fathers of then, fathers of now and fathers in the future will face challenges, demons and forces that can blow out the match. They face times when it is “easier” to spend time doing other things than daddin’. I can’t think of anything more rewarding though.
For whatever light a man can pass along to his children, be thankful. Light chases away darkness. Doing in the moments the things of daddin’ is to carry the light. Happy Father’s Day to all dads, past, present and future. May the light guide the path to the future.