Tomorrow we get to celebrate both Father’s Day and Juneteenth. That’s twice as many reasons to be mindful of our good fortune. Granted, for many of us, that fortune was hard won, and that means it’s all the more precious. I’m going to give myself the day off to be mindful, so I’ll keep this short.
I never met my biological father. My parents got a divorce a few months after I was born. He never paid child support. He never sent me birthday wishes or Christmas cards. I never heard his voice. From an adult perspective, I know I was most likely much better off. He was a chronic alcoholic ever since he witnessed some of the atrocities of WWII, and he died a sad, lonely, alcoholic death many decades later. So I was cheated out of a balanced father/daughter relationship, and I got stuck with a stepfather who sexually abused me. So, yeah. Good times. Not.
That could easily have been the end of my experiences of fatherhood, but I chose not to let that be the case. I met Dr. Ram Verma while working at the Duval County Health Department in Florida, and I immediately saw the goodness in him. He was the embodiment of unconditional love and support, and I remember him with such fondness that I hope you’ll honor him by reading my brief blog post about him, entitled “My Father Figure”, which I wrote nearly a decade ago when I was still in Florida and starved for the love and support he never failed to give me before he passed on.
I hope you have a healthy experience with your father, Dear Reader. It’s an enviable position to be in. But if you lack that healthy experience, all is not lost. Never forget that you get to choose whom to love and invite into the family circle that you create in your heart. Choose wisely. Choose well. These connections are precious.
Incidentally, Ram Verma is a common name, and some of these Rams appear to be internet famous. My Ram Verma passed away in Jacksonville, Florida in 1999, and he has almost no internet presence other than an obituary. I think he’d have liked that. I only have one picture of him now, and I am choosing to leave his anonymity intact. But I will leave these flowers for him, in hopes that he is at peace in whatever form he may be in now. I hope that he somehow knows how grateful I am to have known him, and that I will love him and honor his memory always.