Not Bad Dad, Not Bad at All

microsurgery when my surgical technician sitting opposite me blatted out: “Did you know my Dad just died?” I stopped what I was doing, looked around the operating microscope between us, and said “Really?” He said: ”No lie, drug overdose…age 53.”
I knew the backstory pretty well. His father left the family when my friend was a teen and led a wayward life, with heroin as his best buddy, spending as much time in the clink as out of it. My technician had come to terms with his Dad’s miserable life, after trying to help him for years. A few months earlier, in a rare meeting of the two, my friend told me that his father had said that he was on the mend and asked for his forgiveness. And he forgave him. At that time, I said to him, “You are a truly good man.”

Taken Aback

My friend was knocked way off base by his Dad’s passing, but he couldn’t understand why. I told him that, for a son, a father’s death is a very different kind of death. Can’t explain it, but just ask your buddies and you’ll see what I mean. I also said something else.
“My friend, look how far you’ve come, even with a father-figure like yours. You are happily married with 2 great kids, productive in life, and you have the respect of all of your peers. You are not only a good man but you, maybe unlike your Dad, are a good Father.”

One Day at a Time

Fatherhood isn’t easy nowadays. Just look at the results of Pew Research Poll on Modern Parenthood:

  • About the same percentage of men and women find it difficult to balance work and family responsibilities
  • Nearly equal shares of mothers and fathers say they wish they could be at home raising their children rather than working
  • About twice as many fathers (46%) than mothers (23%) say they are spending too little time with their children
  • When paid work is combined with the work done at home, fathers and mothers are carry an almost equal workload.

So, is it worth slowing down for a moment, and looking back at what we’ve done and where we’ve come? Absolutely! Happy Father’s Day!
He glanced at me above his surgical mask, his eyes teary. “Do you want your 10.0 suture now, Doc?” he asked. “Yes, I do, my friend, yes I do.”