Megan Roantree discusses the sad irony of Father's Day having a bigger impact on those who can't give theirs a call on the day.
I don’t massively remember Father’s Day pre-2008. I’m sure I gave my dad a card and maybe a present, whatever a kid twelve or younger would buy for their dad. We were always incredibly close and had a great relationship, so I’m sure a day to celebrate him wasn’t wasted, but they don’t stick out in my mind.
I remember my first without him though.
I bought a card because I wanted it to feel like normal – but this time I got a bunch of flowers too. I wrote out a long detailed message and put the plastic it came in back over the card so that it would last a little longer on his grave. My first Father’s Day without my dad was almost exactly six months after he passed away. I was thirteen.
I remember the lead up to that Father’s Day too. The ads, the shop displays, the cards everywhere and I remember that it hurt. But of course, all eleven of these I’ve had without him have hurt.
Now the Father’s day reminders are even bigger, I have over 50 emails in my personal inbox, that I haven’t gotten around to deleting. Of course, I have countless work emails about it too, but I’m well aware that it’s part of the job. It’s all over Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, the radio, tv and of course, there’s plenty of chat in the air about it.
It’s funny to hear people innocently ask ‘oh is that this weekend?’ when the ones who aren’t so lucky to have their dads around are so very aware of what date it will fall on.
There are lots of people in the DDC (that’s dead dads club, btw) who totally ignore Father’s Day, and I totally get why. It can be a painful day and a constant reminder of loss. Others might not dwell on it because dates like that don’t affect them, which is fine too.
But for me, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a complicated relationship with Father’s Day. Which I’m sure many in the DDC will have too.
Some years I’m so angry this day exists, it seems almost mean and personal that everyone gets to celebrate their dads. But then so do I, which is why most years, while Father’s Day makes me sad, there’s something nice about it.
My dad’s anniversary can be a lonely time when you can’t expect those around you to just know it’s that dreadful day. His birthday is odd because you feel like celebrating but you also feel like crying, and again, work colleagues and friends can’t be expected to know about it. But then there’s Father’s Day, where everyone who lost their dad, who is okay with talking about it, can do so.
It’s another day to celebrate my dad, but it doesn’t feel lonely, because of course I’m sadly not the only one going through these emotions today.
And while there are countless emails and ads, there are also support networks online and Twitter chats, and considerate people around you who know what day it is, and know the day is going to be tough. There is solidarity.
On Mother’s Day, I saw that a florist in the UK kindly added an ‘Opt-Out’ button on one of their emails for those who find Mother’s day tough. Other companies have followed suit and are now giving their mailing list more consideration and more of a warning before the ‘BUY THIS FOR YOUR DAD WHO IS MOST DEFINITELY ALIVE’ emails come in.
It’s a step in the right direction and hopefully, one that all companies will eventually have, because if there’s a way to make the day a little easier, then why not?
And yet, while I obviously hugely encourage these incentives, I personally won’t be pressing the opt-out button.
It seems odd, and maybe even silly, but part of me kind of likes the idea that an automatic email thinks my dad is still here. Sometimes I like getting emails, no matter how generic and product-focused about buying things or doing nice things for my dad, because just for a second it lets me pretend that he’s here, or at least play with the idea of what I’d buy him if he was here.
If I’m in a shop walking through the men’s section, I like the idea that a shop assistant could assume I was shopping for something for Father’s Day. Sometimes I still do buy cards for his grave and I’m okay with the idea of the cashier assuming my dad is alive. It won’t come as a shock that I don’t love the idea of being someone who has a dead dad. So if I can pretend for a minute I will.
I totally get that so many people are cynical about Father’s Day – blame it on Hallmark wanting to make money and tie shops needing a boost. But that doesn’t make it any easier when your dad isn’t here.
Perhaps if he was still here, I’d give him a quick call. I’m terrible at actually posting cards so I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to it. And I probably wouldn’t give it very much thought at all. But that’s the problem with Father’s Day, it’s a much bigger deal for those who don’t have them around, which is a bit of a cruel joke.
If your dad isn’t around for whatever reason, and you find the day hard, ignore it, or mark it, or do whatever you want to because you don’t get to spend it the way you wish you could, so spend it any other way you see fit.
If your dad is around, and you get on, and you get to call him, be with him, or even just send him a text – just appreciate it, because this day might not be a huge deal to you, but one day it will be.