It was a strange feeling to stand in front of hundreds of Father’s Day cards knowing I would not be purchasing one for you. My eyes scanned over the various sections of cards: dad, grandfather, son, son-in-law, husband. At knee level were brightly colored cards, some decorated with childlike drawings, others with the word “Daddy” along the border. I ran my fingers across the top of those cards. I imagined the kids that would fill this area as they excitedly choose a card for their daddy. If they are anything like ours were, they would pick the biggest, brightest card without even glancing at the words.
As our kids matured, they no longer asked for my help when choosing your Father’s Day card. Each card was still bright, still youthful, but the words written held meaning to each of them.
I felt a smile sneak onto my face as I recalled card shopping with our children. What was once a noisy, giggle-filled experience was now silent as I stood alone in front of this sea of cards. I carefully selected a card for my Dad, as well as a card for your Grandpa, and I left the store with my small purchase.
I learned something for the first time about this special day. Father’s Day was founded in 1910 by a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd. She wasn’t looking to create a holiday that would generate the small fortune that we now spend in greeting cards, there was a significant purpose to her desire to establish this day of honor.
When Sonora was 16 years old, her mother passed away during childbirth. Her father became a widower, left to care for 6 children (including Sonora).
The foundation of this day was laid upon the heart of a young woman because of her widowed father. She appreciated her father and his sacrifices to raise 6 children on his own, and she felt strongly that fathers should be recognized as well, which is the reason she petitioned for what we now know as Father’s Day.
A day that is set aside to honor the fathers in our lives began with the broken heart of a man and his children.
My sweet husband, like Sonora, we recognize and deeply appreciate all that you did, and continue to do even in your heavenly presence, for our family.
I’ve heard from some that now I must assume the roles of both mother and father.
But the truth is…I won’t.
I will never be able to fill the role of your place in the lives of our children.
And I wouldn’t dare try.
My guardianship has heightened and my awareness of their emotional needs has taken on new life, but I will never be you.
I will never assume your role. Because the truth is, that’s not what they need.
They need me to be their mother. The mother they’ve known and trusted all along.
The mother who will guide them as best as I can.
I promise that I will give them the best of me (even if my best occasionally looks like a monkey caught in a hamster wheel).
I promise to live in a way that brings honor to your name.
I promise to be our son’s biggest cheerleader and our daughter’s biggest fan.
I promise to make sure your name is forever spoken with respect, love, and admiration.
My love, I promise never to feel as though I have to make up for your absence.
I promise never to make myself believe that my worth as a mother is not valuable without a father.
Because the truth is, our children will never be without a Father.
Each day that I am given, I will entrust the lives of our children into the hands of the Father you now endlessly praise.
Your own legacy lives beautifully within each of them, while the love of our living God will continuously encompass them.
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” – Psalm 68:5
It’s a promise from God that the three of us will never be alone.
It’s a reminder that I am expected to be only one thing to our children: their mother.
It’s an assertion that I do not have to fill the role of a physical father.
It’s a pledge from God that the three of us are under the protection of His love and the promise of His grace. Therefore, I can focus on being who I was designed to be for our children.
My love, on this first Father’s Day without you, my heart is heavy with your absence, though my soul is light with God’s promise.
I am grateful beyond words that you are the father of our children. Each day I see your characteristics sprinkled in the mix of their personalities and mannerisms, and my heart instantly swells with bittersweet joy.
Your sacrificial heart, while beating and while still, has forever impacted mine. I will never stop living for you and dreaming with you. You are ever-present in our home and your legacy will continue to be what leads our family.
Happy Father’s Day, my love. Our time with you was short, but your love for us is eternal, and that is the best gift a father could ever give.
PS: Give the big guy a hug for me. 🙂
The idea of Father’s Day came to Sonora Smart Dodd while she was attending a church service, and this day was given life as a result of a widower’s heartache and hardship. God moves powerfully in ways that will surprise even the strongest of believers. How incredible that he turned tragedy into encouragement for fathers across the nation for decades upon decades!
Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there!
And to all the single or widowed mamas – isn’t is remarkable to know our children have a Father protecting and leading them alongside each of us?! My heart is with you and your children today!
(This post was originally written and posted on 06/17/17 on SpirituallySingle.net)