In the first of many planned posts regarding my ancestry and lineage, I examine my father’s role in my life, and how the father’s place in modern society has changed.
Though this blog of mine has already been very personal, delving deep into the depths of my brain, there is one subject that I have yet to ever broached, to anyone but a small handful of people. I have never expressed any thought about it online, ever. It pertains to my father, but more specifically, his battle with cancer in 2012.
In comparison to many men and women who have fought against the scourge of cancer, my father is a very lucky man. His cancer was discovered in an early stage. He eventually won the battle, and has been in full remission ever since his surgery in 2012. Most of my family and friends at this time were understandably very upset during his ordeal. It is not that I -wasn’t- bothered by it, but I maintained a sense of calm assurance about it. Some might have called it denial, and I suppose in one sense it was. I spent my entire childhood and entire life as a teenager living with the idea that my father was an immortal superman. It never even occurred to me that any harm could befall him. As a child he was my idol and the symbol of invincibility. Even as an adult who understands the reality that my father is human too, I don’t doubt that there is still some residual belief in my brain which holds to the idea that my father is an immortal hero.
I choose, however, to not see it as denial. Instead, I call it insight. There was never a single moment during my father’s struggle where I accepted that he could possibly die. The thought never occurred to me. I never believed it to be possible. Knowing myself as I do, and knowing how much of my father is in me, gave me peace. I am a stubborn, stubborn man, but my father makes me look like a pushover in comparison. He is the living embodiment of the term, and his so is his father before him. Though this can at times be a detriment, when it comes to dealing with a life threatening situation such as cancer surgery, his introverted nature, his stubbornness, and his pride, I knew, wouldn’t let him die like that. Quite simply, I just knew that there was no way this thing was going to kill him.
There are many in my family and inner circle who believe that my father’s salvation was due to divine intervention and/or the power of prayer. And, whatever they believe is fine. Knowing what I do, however, I believe that the simple, stubborn, defiant will to live of my father, combined with the energy and goodwill channeled toward him by those who wished to see him survive, brought him through his crisis. Metaphysics for the win.
The man may not be perfect. He has his strange quirks to be sure. The “adult” version of me certainly doesn’t see my father in exactly the same way as my child version did. But I still hold him in high esteem. I am lucky to have had a good father to guide me through the really difficult, formative teenage years of my life.
Modern society, I have noticed, especially in America, seems to have devalued the father and the role of men in the lives of children quite extensively. It is particularly prevalent in media, sitcom television most obviously, where at best, the dad is a gross comedy relief. It is a bizarre paradigm shift from decades ago, where it was women who were portrayed as weaklings, buffoons, idiots, or at best, secondary to the male. I’m not saying that we have seen a complete 180, and I’m not saying that I don’t support seeing women given stronger roles in both society and in media, but men and fathers have become a little too taken-for-granted and a little too underestimated for my liking.
As I stated in my post about gender equality, I feel that the differences between men and women should be celebrated, not damned. That means that the roles of both mothers and fathers should be celebrated, and never taken lightly. I wouldn’t be the person I am without both of my parents being a strong presence in my life. You don’t need a Father’s Day or a Mother’s Day to come around to appreciate what good parents in both roles can do for not just a child, but for our civilization at large.