Sunday, June 19, 2022

I Am A “Happy Father”!🙂

Father’s Day has certainly become “different” over the years, especially over the past five years, with my own father passing into Eternity and my children growing up. This Father’s Day 2022, the family got together, as we do on most Sundays. I wasn’t feeling well, and had to take a couple of “breaks,” but it was a beautiful day for an outdoor picnic, and so we had a little celebration. I didn’t take any pictures.

It was a day for me to be silent in my heart, and look upon with wonder and gratitude these people whom God has given to us over the past 25 years. Along this mysterious journey, and even in front of all its peculiar difficulties, the reality of the gift shines through, and I can say, “I am a happy father!”

Here is the most recent picture of the “original” Janaros of this generation that was taken last month after Lucia’s graduation (daughter-in-law Emily and granddaughter Maria were away for her sister’s graduation that weekend, so they are not in the picture). Just look at them!

***I still struggle with feelings of uselessness in relation to my wife and these kids. I don’t fit the typical “stereotype” for fathers, at least on the surface. I don’t have much to offer “from the neck down,” and even with my mind and voice I have made the same kind of mistakes that most fathers make.

But I’m “here,” and I have made much effort to be “here” in the midst of my family for the past 15 years. Perhaps if I had been healthy during those years, I would have been less present to my family, and more excessively absorbed in my career aspirations and ambitions (which were quite large, as were the expectations regarding me as a “rising star” in the academic world long ago, when I was young). 

Work, of course, is necessary and enriching, and there is a balanced way for a father to engage in work commitments beyond the home that not only provides essential family income, but also opens wider perspectives for his children and inspires them to grow in maturity. This path - common for more physically healthy fathers - has its own trials, temptations, and sacrifices that so many fathers quietly embrace each day for their families.

I have had special limitations, but I keep trying to do the essential thing: to love and care for my “kids.” I think they know that their very flawed, very human parents love them. I pray for them (and for myself), begging God in front of the immense disproportion between my own weakness and the gift of the vocation to fatherhood. Without the love of the Mystery who sustains all things - the God who alone is the Father in a radical sense, the Father of us all, who gives His love to us through Jesus Christ - I could not endure or face any of the perplexing challenges and twists and turns of this life. Even the joys would inevitably spoil and inflate into illusions of pride, or else frustrate by their own finitude and turn to disappointment and loss.

Jesus does not take away all the weakness and poverty, but He stays with us, and so we are reminded and prompted by the Holy Spirit to turn to Him and adhere to Him, recognizing in Jesus the fullness of every moment - He who makes us children of God our Father through His redeeming love.

His love illuminates our sorrows too, and our grief. I remember my own father with gratitude and prayer, and I miss him. It was touching the way Facebook brought back memories of Father’s Days from the past.

Then there’s being a grandfather. Seeing “your children’s children” is a great blessing, full of surprises. Of course, you know I’m a “happy Papa”!☺️