Why Father's Day, Mother's Day ... Matter

I, for one, am grateful for "Mother's Day," which did not exist when I was growing up in India, and which I was introduced to only in America, where it has near-religious significance. Though nowhere as religious as Mother's Day (and possibly that's fair, because we don't spend nine months in our father's "womb", straining his resources and eating his food), Father's Day has begun to mean something to me too. Why? Because I'm a father--a proud father of three sons, whom I think of with love especially on this day. If you think Father's Day ought to be abolished, ask any father for his opinion. Fatherhood does not get the attention it deserves, and here is a day when people at least spend a few moments to take time off from the current obsessions of their culture, the media pap--nip slips, wardrobe malfunctions, stained dresses--to think about their fathers, and perhaps to wish them. (Other than that no father has ever given birth to a child, every father is unique, and all generalizations--including mine--are silly.)

Besides, why not fathers, since we have a Groundhog Day and a Secretaries Day, and so on? As for me, rationalist though I may call myself at times, just the words, "Happy Father's Day, Dad!" coming from my sons ... lifts up my spirits, makes me feel loved, is worth more than gold. If I can make someone immensely happy by just saying four words, why deny them that pleasure?

Besides, it's only because of this silly, acquired tradition that I managed to speak to my mother just before she became sick and was admitted to the hospital, only to die a few days later. So my last conversation with my mother, which was a lucky conversation--my mother had not been in the best of health, and sometimes, the connection wasn't clear, or she wasn't fully lucid--was full of love, dollops of tenderness, a dash of humor, real feeling, and her blessing. I had no idea it would be our last conversation, and I might not have called but for the almost unshakable feeling within me that if there was one person I ought never to miss calling, every New Year, Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, Nativity of Our Lady (a very big feast day among Mangalorean Catholics) and on her birthday (in addition to once every couple of weeks, when possible)--it was my mother. A very intelligent book I'm editing (I can't say more than that it's by an American author who's an Ivy League graduate of some distinction) suggests that the silly things matter, because they show that we care; little gestures show our consideration, function as reaffirmations of continuing love (which should never be taken for granted).

In this connection, I have published a few books relating to the theme of fatherhood (some serious and passionate--"Fathers and Sons, War and Love," for example; and a few that are playful), and you can find them at Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. My father's World War II Prisoner of War memoir, Eaten by the Japanese, also contains a few essays by me, at least two of which express my feelings as a son towards a father I began to fully recognize and honor when he was closer to the end of his life.


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