It’s only when you grow up and step back from him―or leave him for your own home―it’s only
then that you can measure his greatness and fully appreciate it.
– Margaret Truman

Happy Father’s Day!

Whether your kids are human or furry, enjoy your special day!

Father’s Day can be a bittersweet day for those of us whose fathers are no longer with us. Depending on how fresh your loss is, even seeing Father’s Day card pop up in stores, and getting countless emails with Father’s Day gift suggestions, may bring sadness and even tears.

My father died ten years ago. While our relationship was complicated at times, I always knew that he loved me, and I have lots of wonderful memories of him. His life was shaped to a great extent by his experiences during World War II in Germany, and as a result of experiencing so much loss at such a young age, he held those he loved close to him – at times, too close for a daughter who wanted to spread her wings and fly from the nest.

My dad was not a cat lover. He liked animals, but he never made a real connection with them. I think he was a little puzzled by my love of and obsession with cats. I often wish that he could have known how the love of a small cat can transform a life – maybe it would have made his early life experiences a little more bearable.

Ingrid King with her father

Rather than focusing on the sadness that my dad is no longer a part of my life, I try to mark the holiday in ways that help me remember who he was. For me, that means spending time in nature. My favorite memories of my dad involve long walks we took together in the woods near our home. He knew the name of every tree, flower and animal we came across on those walks. Even today, I find myself walking through my neighborhood thinking “Dad would know the name of this flower” – and in those moments, it feels like he’s right there with me.

There are other ways you can honor your father’s memory:

  • Write a Father’s Day card to him and list all the things you loved and appreciated about him.
  • Cook your father’s favorite foods for your family or friends.
  • Donate to a charity your father supported
  • Go through old pictures to relive some of your good memories

This Father’s Day, I’ll be taking a long walk somewhere in nature, and then I’ll be spending time with Allegra and Ruby, who always make me feel better, no matter how sad I may be about not having my dad in my life anymore. My dad had a long, sometimes difficult, but ultimately good life, and while I’ll always miss his physical presence in my life, I also know that his spirit is never far from me.

If you still have your father, tell him that you love him today. If you are a father, enjoy your special day!

Photo by Maggie Osterberg, Flickr Creative Commons

16 Comments on Conscious Cat Sunday: Happy Father’s Day

  1. Thank you for the beautiful post Ingrid. My Dad has been gone 28 years. Three weeks ago our Siamese cat, Whiskey, bolted out the door and was lost. Everyday we searched to no avail. I thought he was lost forever until I started asking my Dad to help me. He did! We found Whiskey after day 14 and 7 days after that I managed to live trap him. My Dad loved cats and I know in my heart he answered my prayers by keepin him safe and allowing me to eventually find him. Whiskey is home safe and sound and I know that my Dad is always looking out for me. Thanks Dad. Happy Father’s Day. I love you.

    • What a wonderful story, Robyn. I can’t imagine what you went through when Whiskey got lost. If your dad helping you find him isn’t the ultimate act of love, I don’t know what is.

  2. I might just buy one of those big Father’s Day cards one year and put it on my father’s grave.

    Excuse the many grammatical typos in my previous comment.

  3. Great post! Thank you!

    My dad has been gone more than 30 years and when I walked past one of those super-giant Father’s Day cards this year I wanted to buy it for him.

    My paternal grandmother wrote to her father posthumously on a card that I still have. (I have been planning to scan it for other descendants to get to know her and him a bit.) The book HOW TO WRITE THE STORY OF YOUR LIFE (by Frank P. Thomas) also has a nice section helping one describe people.

    Another idea for a memorial is a scholarship in one’s father’s memory, also books to libraries (though the latter can be rather emphemeral at the rate libraries dump books.

    I started computer documents on my dad and grandparents and when I’d think of something about them I’d write it down. My dad, for example, once said that if God made anything better than sweet potatoes he kept it for himself. And I have a lovely picture of him REALLY enjoying a watermelon on a 4th of July. Lots more but I found the more I wrote the more I thought of things that might help keep him (and them) alive for others. My lovely mother-in-law described her favorite little brother (who was killed in WWII) so beautifully I sometimes forget neither my husband nor I never had the opportunity to meet him.

    I always intend to bring out the albums on Father’s Day and my father’s other special days. And we toasted him with champagne too.

  4. What a lovely post, poignant and heartfelt, in good and bad times…the love is what lingers on. Neither my dad nor my step-dad are alive and the years since they passed have just flown by, but I so miss being able to talk to them in those times that are good and those times that are bad…

  5. Thank you Ingrid for your beautiful writing honoring your father.

    I think we as adults, still expect our parents to be perfect. It must be innate. However, we do know they were young once with all the trials & tribulations, some worse than we will ever experience.
    And our parents had their own way of coping with life. Sometimes lost is the recognition of the generational difference, culture, societal era when we were young. These were influential in our upbringing too.

    It does appear your father took joy, inspiration & solace from walking with YOU in nature. Peaceful. And only those in a war know how it is. The toll it takes.

    My Dad was the silent type. But he was somewhat like Archie Bunker:) He would praise me out of the blue mixed in with a lot of criticism. For he felt criticism made a person try harder.

    I grew up not sure if my father loved me. It was not until he was in Assisted Care did he reminisce about the joy I brought him as a child. And he admitted he left most of my raising up to my mother.
    While in AssistedCare, he would worry about my traveling, staying too late, getting too cold, etc.

    And there, he said “I Love You.'”
    Thank you Dad.
    I love you too. <3

      • Oh, btw, I always had kitties since I was a little girl. Such joy. One would come to bed with me every night. Get under the covers & up so her head was on the pillow & her body under the covers, just like me. Cats are are amazing….so lovable…companions. XO

  6. Sending you ((((hugs))) today and I know… I lost my Dad in 2001. We were extremely close. He wasn’t an enormous fan of cats either (he always had Dogs), but what i loved was, he adored my Angel Bobo and often found me unique cat items that he would purchase as birthday gifts. They weren’t his most favorite animal but the acknowledged and respected my love for them.

  7. Your relationship with your dad sounds much like mine. He definitely had his ideas about a woman’s place in the family and in society. Although, by the time he died, I think he was pretty proud to see that I was my own person, owned my own home, answered to no one an put up with no one’s crap!

    Likewise, my dad was a farmer and felt as though animals should be outside. That is until my parents came to stay with me for a while. One day, I looked up to see him standing in the middle of my living room talking to someone. There was my tortie (then not quite a year old) at his feet looking at him, meowing back at him. I asked him, “I thought you didn’t fraternize with animals?” He responded, with a straight face, “Mittens isn’t like other animals; she’s like people!”

    I think she was both of my parents’ first one-on-one experience with a kitten and she actually made them “cat people” (my mother always loved animals but never especially liked cats).

    I think she has that magical tortie power! 😀

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