Published on June 15, 2018

Father and son

Father's Day Photos

Father’s Day is Sunday, a day when all of us remember and appreciate those we call Dad, Father, Papa, or any one of a hundred other names that are among the very first words we learned to speak.

For some the appreciation can be direct and personal. For some it will be more bittersweet because the one they loved as father is no longer living. And for others it will be a reminder that they didn’t have the opportunity of a close relationship with a man they could call father. I am in the second group, having lost my father about two years ago.  But the sorrow that I have for his loss is persistently challenged by the generous love and care that he extended to me. Sunday is a day for me to be grateful for what he meant and means to me.

I am holding a photo of my father in my hands as I prepare for this column. It is a photo that was taken just four years ago, during a trip to Norway. It was a trip my father had always dreamed of taking back to Norway with his family!

“Forde” means “end of the fjord” in Norwegian. This is a very small town. As he got older, it became one of my father’s most cherished trips. He longed to visit our relatives and see some of the places where our extended Norwegian family lived their lives. And he wanted the American Forde family to be there with him. Four years ago the dream became a reality, and we all traveled to Norway together. What a trip!

There are tears in my eyes as I am looking at this special picture. The setting is in front of my great-grandfather’s modest home. I am standing on my father’s right side, my arm casually around his shoulders. My sister is standing to his left. And next to her my own son is standing—representing the next generation of our family in the photo.

The photo shows my father intently focused on the camera, as if he realizes that we are creating a milestone photograph that will be cherished for generations to come. And it’s true: it is quite possible that one day my son will share this photo with his own grandchildren. When he does so, I hope that it is with good memories and with gratitude.

A year after this photo was taken, my father passed away. Just thinking and writing about what a special experience this was for us—and what it meant to him—brings tears to my eyes. Of course it does.

On Father’s Day, don’t blink back the tears. If you are fortunate enough to have your father still with you, hug him or call him up and let him know how much he means to you. And if he is gone, recall his life with gratitude and thanksgiving. That’s what the day is all about.

Happy Father’s Day!

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