And so another pain pokes at me at the start of this first Father’s Day weekend without. Every year, I celebrated Peter’s greatness as a father. He was kind, and fun, and gentle, and wise, and patient, and loving to his children. He gave to our kids what I couldn’t, and he stepped aside for me to give what he couldn’t. We knew our weaknesses and we knew our strengths. We played off of each other, never in a bad cop/good cop way, rather in a what I can bring/what you can bring way. I never used him for the disciplinarian, and he never used me as a princess of the family. Our roles were blended not defined.
In our children’s eyes, we were interchangeable yet different. In one sense, our children came to either of us for a skinned knee, an illness, or a bad dream. Neither children cried or threw a tantrum if we left the house for a night out or a weekend away. Yet, in another sense, he was irreplaceable. He was the parent who took them boating, or camping or would teach them skills, not in my wheelhouse. (For the life of me, I still don’t understand geometry.) Because of Peter, because of his equal involvement in parenting, our kids are successes in life. They are compassionate, empathetic, gracious, loving, intelligent, independent, well-rounded, and impactful human beings on this earth because their father made them his priority.
My mother used to marvel at Peter’s parenting skills and would say “he’s such a good father” every visit I had with her. Every vist. Her last words to me were “pray to Peter on how I can go and visit him in heaven”. She adored him because he was the man she hoped me to have in my life, and the father she saw him to be with her grandchildren. A nephew told me at Peter’s memorial service and then again in an email that if he has one-fourth of Peter’s ability as a father, he will end up a good one. A niece wrote to me on how Peter served as an example of what fatherhood should look like in her own husband. Friends would comment on how much easier I had it as a mother because of him. He was that good of a father. He did not go unnoticed. His natural and unnatural skills he honed made him stand out among other fathers.
For me, seeing Peter as a father, in his element, with such dedication and prioritization, was the sexiest part of him. There was something about seeing him with our premature infant son laying on his bare chest for skin-to-skin contact, or painting our daughter’s toddler toes, that had the butterflies dancing in my belly. Even as our children grew older and he would dole out advice, or put everything aside to pick out a car or help move into an apartment, the butterflies danced. Fatherhood is sexy to me, and I believe to this day my initial attraction to Peter was because I knew he would be a great father. He never disappointed.
So tomorrow will be a reminder for all he was as a father. His fatherhood memories kept, the way he prioritized his family, the knowledge he handed over, the unconditional love he gave and the love language he spoke will all be remembered. It will be remembered in sorrow, in mourning, in longing, and in what is missing now. I hope though, along the way, there will be some smiles of all he gave with his gift in life – being the greatest of fathers.
Happy Father’s Day, Peter. Thank you for the burdens you eased, the directions you gave, and allowing me to see the sexiest part of you. Wherever your spirit sails, wherever your soul soars, please know your family here on earth will celebrate you tomorrow. God, how we miss you.