It’s a rainy father’s day, so therefore one not spent at the beach or barbecuing, but more or less just kicking around the house drinking lots of coffee. This morning, fueled by free time, caffeine and bagels, my husband, Jim, settled in at the computer and made our daughters CDs. Needless to say they were thrilled. Gifts from Daddy! On Daddy’s day! What unexpected bounty!

One of our daughters is still sick with the flu so as I lay in bed with her, rallying every antibody I have, I listened to her CD and thought a bit about how lucky she is to have him. How fortunate I am to have him. And how many good, kind men have inhabited my life as mentors, friends, and, of course, my husband, who has made my life wonderful in more ways than I can express in a blog.

The CDs were not the usual kid fare although Taylor Swift and the Plain White Tees do make an appearance. Largely they were largely made up of classics—the musical canon, so to speak. “America” and “Punky’s Dilemna” by Simon and Garfunkel. “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake. “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” by Cat Stevens. “Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor (this is a song we’ve used as a lullaby since both of their infancies… Nora still makes me sing it when she goes to bed). “Silver and Gold” by Neil Young. “Imagine” and “Let It Be.”

As I listened to these songs and thought of my daughters hearing them and learning them and bringing them from us into their futures I had a tangible sense of the longevity a families gives. Of generations one after another passing along the comforts of continuity and the reassurances of familiar spaces and faces and hands and words. This is what families give each other. These are the things that make us whole human beings.

Personally, I have a rather haphazard relationship with fathers, but I am reminded of a time long ago when I was a kid and my father came east from California for one of his infrequent visits. We didn’t know each other all that well, but I remember that he took my brother and I to a record store and told us we could choose anything we wanted. I got Donna Summer’s “On The Radio.” Now, I don’t know how old I was but the album was released in ’79 and I have a feeling it was relatively new at the time so I would have been 11 or 12 years old. And, let me tell you, I thought I was so cool. Not that I was cool. I was a geeky, awkward kid—all teeth and hair—and too shy to have very many friends, but that album made me feel like I was somebody important. Special. In the privacy of my room I danced to “MacArthur Park” and “Last Dance” and thought that even though he was far away, somebody out there thought I was cool enough to listen to Donna Summer even though I probably wasn’t. It was a good feeling. 

It’s a funny thing to remember. One of the great conundrums of parenting is trying to figure out what your kid will remember some time way off in the future when they really need you and you can’t be there. What words, gifts, traits, moments. They won’t be the ones you imagine, of this much I am relatively certain. However, to my husband, and all the fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, uncles, cousins and good guy friends who are there for the people they love, have a happy Father’s Day.

You deserve it.

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