The Superhero dad
A father’s day story
I’ve never seen my dad as a hero. He did what he was supposed to. I grew up in a Christian nuclear family. My dad had a decent job. My mother was a housewife that raised me and my younger sister all the way through high school. He always showed us love and caring, I’ve never struggled to hear some sort of “I’m proud of you” from my dad or anything like that. And by literally filling up the basics of a loving father figure, I could never see him as a so-called hero.
We’ve struggled in our relationship soon after my parent’s divorce. He cheated on my mom, which rang extremely hypocritical to me by the standards I was raised in, and since that, I have struggled to picture myself in a long-term committed relationship. Being gay also added to that difficulty, but that’s another day story. For the past three or four years, we’ve improved again. He sees me less than he wanted to, I get to be with him more than I myself would find to be okay. But it’s always nice, especially around august, since it’s Brazilian father’s day and also his birthday, which is coming up on the next 20th.
I was with him today, physically, and enjoyed a nice meal paid for by my sister, which I won’t pay back, due to the long time she’s been living off my money.
But all day, my heart has been elsewhere. My best friend, pseudo little brother, has lost his dad last November for a disease complicated by covid. I sent him a message, and I tried and miserably failed, to be with him on the Saturday before father’s day Sunday. He hearted the message on Twitter and that was all I could have done. I can’t stand the idea of losing someone like his dad.
In my friend’s case, his dad was a superhero. His mother left them when he was only four years old, and since his dad has raised him through sorrow and grit in a little shed in the middle of one of my city’s poorest communities. And he did great. I mean, the kid is brilliant, and despite having a lot of challenges with his dad in his last months, he loves the guy.
So, around June last year, my friend had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to go live with his mom, a childhood dream of his. He practically asked for my blessing to go and fulfill it. He moved away to live with his mom in a nice small condo apartment in a city around ours. He left his dad in the old shed, under the care of his much older siblings. And then once he died, my friend had a rough time, comprehensively. I was able to be around him, take care of him, hug him through the pain, and help him get back on his feet to keep moving with his eighteen-year-old life. And him and I got a new kind of bond, where he sort of started to mirror himself into me, as a role model. That worked for a while and still strikes me, but its been like this since we met in church, when he barely fifteen. His dad was full of life, always telling an uncle joke, happy to have me into his home, and that is something to remember in a day like this.
By now, father’s day is already a memory waiting to repeat itself next year. It doesn’t really makes it different or any less of a day if you’re those of us who can celebrate a good relationship with your dad, or those others who rather not remember a guy existed, or some like my friend, who can only remember him for who he was, trying to freeze-frame in the best of memories. Whatever you stand in the spectrum, it is and always will be important to talk about fatherhood, whatever shape it might take to you.
But anyways. Maybe it’s just the less commercialized holiday of the year, and still a good construct for selling polo shirts and sports gear. We’ll always talk about it somehow. It’s extremely important to both respect those who have reason to celebrate and those who don’t. Father are those who raise and love. And God is a mother.
In solidarity for those who lost their dads to covid-19 anywhere, especially among the 560,000 deaths in Brazil. My best wishes to every single-mother who’s been raising their children to shine among the best in this world. And a special hug to LGBTQ fathers everywhere: you inspire my hopes to be.