I used to stand in the card aisle picking through dozens of cards. How could I find one that would be appropriate? They just don't make cards for abusive dads. Sentiments like, "I remember all the good times," or "You've taught me so much," were almost humorous in their irony. Almost...but not really. It's an important day, for the many who can and want to honor their fathers but it's a day filled with anxious worry for many of us.
Now that my father is gone, there is much less to fret about. No card, no gift, no phone call needed to create the fiction for the rest of the world that all is well. I have been able to make friends with lots of fathers in my role as a teacher and have discovered many who are doing it right and some who are even doing it well. It gives me hope that the name "father" is not necessarily a word carrying the weight of abuse or neglect. It can be a word that is filled with longing and love.
Well-meaning folks have suggested that I can replace my father with God the Father. That is not easily done! If my own father was intimidating, strict, harsh, how much more so the Almighty Judge of humanity? It takes a long time to separate the one from the other and I am never sure I have been successful at it, though I have tried over and over and have had glimpses of loving fathers who could be examples.
Can I wish anyone a Happy Father's Day sincerely? I can and have when I see genuine love and admiration from their children. Father's Day will never mean to others what it does to me. That's a very good thing!