My Dad grew up without a father. His parents separated shortly after he was born, and he was left in the care of his maternal grandma. And so it was that when he became a father at 32, he resolved to always be there for his kids.
As the eldest--and should I add guinea pig?--I've had more than my fair share of Dad's literal "being theres." While I was out dancing on my first prom, he was right downstairs, shooting breeze with the guards. I ended up going home at the teener's ungodly hour of 8 p.m., just as the prom was revving up. (It would have been perfectly all right if I stayed, but I didn't want to risk the chance of being caught attending the prom with Dad.)
He was there, too, on my first day in college. Patience was never one of his strongest traits, but there he was, patiently waiting for me the way yayas waited for their wards in preschool. And he was with me on my first job interview. He had a meeting in the area, he said. But of course I knew better. I knew that he wanted to be the first to congratulate me (if I got the job) or console me (if I didn't). I got the job, and the literal "being there" slowly switched to figurative mode.
My husband, Papa G, grew up the same way my Dad did: without a father. His Dad had to go away, leaving his Mom to take care of one daughter and eight sons. His Mom had to attend to the logistic side of raising a handful and was out of the house most of the time. Papa G taught himself to cook, to look after himself and his two younger brothers, to survive.
When we got married, Papa G promptly claimed the kitchen as his domain. I wouldn't say, though, that he embraced fatherhood with the same confidence. Sure, he busied himself with the doables: washing the baby things, sterilizing the baby bottles, buying the baby stuff. But when it came to soothing a colicky baby, he often gave me this "lost" look, as if asking for the operations manual that came with the baby. As if I wasn't just as lost.
Luckily, Papa G soon realized that a baby needs more than just clean diapers. And he soon realized--the way my Dad did--that fatherhood doesn't require a template. It is, in fact, a matter of faith.
And faith they have a lot of.
Happy Fathers' Day, Dad and Papa! And Kidkid, and Kenneth and Jeric. And a happy day too, to all the dads, papas, tatays, fathers and dadas all over...