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Dad's deserve to be spoiled on Father's Day just being there

When a father is gone too soon, his absence leaves a giant hole in his family forever

10 June 2018 - 00:00 By shanthini naidoo

I got my husband Guns N' Roses concert tickets, which I absolutely cannot afford, for Father's Day. The gesture is shallow, I know, just as diamonds, slippers or dressing gowns are completely inadequate Mother's Day presents to show appreciation for the things women do in this world (I'll take them anyway).
The shallowness is acceptable, though, because no material gift or gratuitous 24 hours on a calendar can quantify how valuable someone's attempt at being a good mother or father is to their children. It determines their role in the world.
Good fathers do need recognition and a bit of a spoil next Sunday.
It isn't a "thank you" for being the exception to the stereotypical absent dad, and it's not for doing their parental duty. That's a requirement of nature.
The spoil is possibly for just being there.
Because their presence alone has immeasurable value.
I know, because my dad is not here anymore.
My father-in-law is not here either.
Their bodies failed, far too young.
We were privileged to glean many ideals in the short time they were present.We even learnt from their failings, long after they were gone.
But the impact of that absence is a giant hole in the eldership in our families, sorely missed grandfather hugs for our kids, perhaps patriarchal respect from our partners, companionship for our mothers. Damn, someone to fetch the kids from school once in a while?
We miss them, warts and all.
We miss the musky scent of an ageing man and his uncool aftershave mingled with cigarette smoke.
It would have been nice to notice the greying hair while listening to endless stories, frowning at their interesting taste in music and their inclination towards strange foods.
Maybe they would have shared gardening tips, dad jokes in their dad jeans, cable-knit sweaters or their enthusiasm about sport.
Who knows how they would have aged, how politically incorrect or how grumpy and disagreeable they might have become.
Maybe the absence is a gift to rebellious young men and women.
But it can't be.
Because we would not feel the absence that hangs in the air and spontaneously creates a lump in the throat on special or inconsequential days alike.No matter their imperfections or achievements, the presence of a dad is like that of a tall, strong tree in the garden.
Perhaps some of the fruit was imperfect, the leaves definitely problematic in certain seasons, but its presence is shelter, imposing when the elements of life show up.
To show approval or disdain at our paths in the road.
To say well done, or not.
I wish I could buy them some socks, a cardigan or trendy cologne this Father's Day.
Something shallow, just to honour their presence...

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