Honoring dads….in life and in death

Published 4:43 pm Saturday, June 20, 2015

I received several compliments from my Mother’s Day column.  Maybe the most touching was from a minister who told me he used it for part of his sermon on the second Sunday in May.  Thank you, sir, I am honored beyond words.

This week’s missive was going to be about – naturally – Father’s Day.  But then Wednesday night happened; and I guess what sticks, and stings, most for me was the loss of Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

You see, Rev. Pinckney left behind two daughters; and tomorrow, if you’re reading this on Saturday, is Father’s Day. It’s also four days removed from when those two little girls lost their father.

Pinckney was the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church’s pastor and a South Carolina state senator. He was called to the ministry in that church at the age of 13. He was also elected to the state House at age 23, making him the youngest House member at the time.

And when he lost his life, he was 41.  Someone took that life, and it was a life that mattered, and he was a father that mattered.

A minister once said Father’s Day is one of the most painful days of the year. Not for people who had amazing Dads that we’ve lost, but for those who never knew the love of a father; the people whose fathers abandoned them, who were physically or emotionally abusive, or otherwise unavailable in their lives.

That is one reason Father’s Day is so painful when your Dad is gone. There are no gifts, no cards, and no phone calls. You can’t tell them, “I love you.” You can’t give or receive a simple hug.

For some people there was never anyone there for them to call “Daddy”.  For some, they just never had a fatherly closeness to any other males in their lives. If they were female, it might have been an older brother. But for both men and women it was not a cousin, uncle, friend, hunting and fishing buddy, or even a neighbor.

It sounds to me from what I’ve read that Rev. Pinckney’s little girls had a great Daddy. They got the complete package just like I did: a loving, caring, always available, great teacher; someone who made everything alright, a hero. He was a man who was always there.

For those of you who get to spend Father’s Day with your Dads I hope you enjoy every precious second of it.

For those of you whose Dad’s have transitioned on, don’t stop thinking about him, don’t stop talking to him, and don’t stop honoring him not just on Father’s Day, but every day. Do it for yourself as much as for him.

If you’ve lost a Dad who you loved and who showed you love right back, embrace Father’s Day with a spirit of gratitude and courage.

Whether they’re here, or they’ve gone on, I want to tell those little girls that God didn’t fail you. He gave you – and us – the greatest gift ever: an angel that’s going to watch over you for the rest of you life. And that even goes for the lives of your children, and children’s children, and so on. This Sunday, let’s make that the Dad we celebrate.

Happy Father’s Day. This year, tough as it’s going to be whether it’s your first without Dad, or more years than you care to count have passed since you last saw them, in life or otherwise: we’re going to celebrate this day together.  We’re going to get through this day together.

 Gene Motley is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at gene.motley@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7211.