Tomorrow is Father’s Day.
Today, millions of people are scurrying around buying socks and ties and big screen television sets.
Tomorrow cards will be exchanged, feet rubbed, favourite meals cooked, photos taken.
Not at our house.
My father, Calvin Cooper, Sr. passed away serenely on May 14th, 2014. Thirty-one days ago today. Tomorrow is Father’s day. What are we going to do? While we won’t be able to celebrate WITH him any more, we will indeed be celebrating HIM on this special day in June.
After all, during his 85 year assignment down here, he chalked up plenty of reasons to celebrate his memory.
Many were the stories of my dad’s academic and professional accolades. If his life were a song, the lyrics would tell an impressive story: raised in a tiny house on Lewis Street, Nassau; selected to attend the prestigious Government High School; President of his graduating class at McGill University; first Bahamian Director of Public Works; first Boss of The Year awardee in The Bahamas; a lifetime of service to the Bahamas Golf Federation; organizer of charity golf tournaments; dedicated thespian and champion of community theatre. That’s all well and good, but to understand why we will always celebrate this man, you would have to hear the whole song. Then you would know why so many lives were uplifted during his stay here, and why even through our grief, we will be singing his song tomorrow and every day.
His life companion, my mother, held his hand through sixty years of marriage. Through love, and loss, they were always there for each other. They raised seven children together and shared the unimaginable grief of having to attend the funeral of one of them. They watched their children move from cute and cuddly, to unbearably sassy, to troublesome know-it-alls, to their own caretakers during their old age.
On May 14th and for many days after, there was a steady stream of phone calls; personal visits and online messages from friends and colleagues who spoke not just of his sharp mind and professional acumen, but over and over told stories of his patience; his habit of admonishing to teach – not to punish or humiliate; of his personal attention to detail and willingness to serve; his sense of humour and love of games of all sorts. Funny, he was just like that at home. That’s what being authentic looks like. When you are comfortable in your strength, you are comfortable helping others find theirs and that’s what being a good father and husband looks like.
It seems everyone enjoyed having my dad as a dad. You probably would have too, had you known him.
Tomorrow is Father’s Day. Enjoy the gift giving, but most of all I hope you take a moment to really appreciate the father figure in your life - and tell him so. And if, like my family, you are celebrating in his absence, then do so to the fullest. He would want it that way.