I will reiterate what I said regarding Mothers and Moms. You need not have contributed your genetic material to a child to have your influence felt in his or her life.
I pinged a widda friend online last night to wish her a happy Father's Day, 1) as a way of honoring her late husband, and 2) to honor her dual role (the opposite of my own dual role). Her daughter was using her Messenger account and felt the need to reproach my greeting, stating that dads were merely sperm donors who paid for a bunch of things they didn't want to pay for. I seem to remember a lot of Cub Scout & Indian Guide meetings and events, soccer games, school plays and family gatherings, where there was this guy who everyone referred to as my dad. If all dads are merely sperm donors and ATMs with legs, I wonder who that guy was.
She went on to say that once a person is dead, they no longer have any impact on our lives. Wow. Call off MLK Day, Veterans Day and Christmas, forget the teachings of Gandhi and the eloquent words of Chief Seattle, forget the lessons of the Holocaust, and by all means forget that there was once a beautiful woman in my life who gave birth to two beautiful children and gave them a strong foundation upon which to build their lives and identities.
I know it's just the teenage angst talking, not to worry. I wasn't offended or insulted - just sad for the place she's in. It's a tragic mindset. This morning I actually called my widda friend and gave her the Father's Day wish personally. And guess what - she appreciated it wholeheartedly.
So Happy Father's Day, fathers. And stepfathers, and mothers doing double-duty. Any jerk can be a sperm donor or ATM, but if you have made a positive and lasting impact in a child's life, this stupid Hallmark holiday is society's way of giving you a pat on the back (ah, the sarcastic bait-and-switch!). But it's not about the day, is it? It's about making that lasting impact, and seeing the result - a child becomes a responsible adult and passes on your legacy of positive influence. With any luck, teen angst gives way to adult perspective.
Your guidance and influence ARE felt for a long time. Even after you are gone. Here's to you, Pop. And Sam, thanks for giving me the gift of equal joy and pain that is fatherhood.