Sunday, we will celebrate Father's Day, which means something different for everybody, depending on your situation.
Many residents will spend the day with Dad, enjoying lunch, playing catch, going fishing, giving gag gifts — like the inevitable awful necktie — or maybe heading to Big Kahuna's or enjoying the beach.
Of course, kids will squeeze in those three little words often lost in the day-to-day rush: "I love you."
Some residents will visit Dad in the nursing home or hospital, reminding him that a father is always a father, and nothing's changed despite declining physical or mental health.
Some, including Sports Editor Randy Dickson and me, will reflect on treasured memories since our fathers died much too soon.
Still others will mourn never having a father, or a father figure, to begin with.
Holidays like Father's Day bring a range of emotions, thoughts and questions that far surpass canned sentiments on typical greeting cards.
Need to nurture
I wonder whether my father would be proud of me today; whether I will ever earn the kind of respect and prominence he had in my native Baldwin County, Ala.; and whether I'm the man I want to be since I lacked his leadership in crucial times. (Oct. 11 will be 15 years without him.)
At 31 years old, I wonder whether I want to be a father. It was a given decades ago — for instance, in Vacation Bible School, I was an 11-year-old who preferred mentoring the 6- and 7-year-olds over hanging out with kids my own age.
That need to teach and nurture has always been present, but a lot has changed since then.
For one thing, I've been an unrepentant workaholic for nine years. I take pride in producing quality newspaper products, and aim to bring the same high standards to our social media channels and video lines. However, you know the expression, "jack of all trades, master of none?" By trade, I have to wear many hats, so I just overdo it, working Sunday through Saturday on all our platforms to disprove that saying. (Don't worry; just a few hours each weekend.) The point is, no CNB property, for the most part, gets the redheaded stepchild treatment.
Of course, giving that kind of attention to your work life pretty much kills your personal life. Don't get me wrong, I agree with near-centenarian Vera Harold Owen's sentiment, "Hard work might hurt you, but it sure won't kill you."
And I love my career, volunteering and networking, but realistically, even these things aren't holding me back from a deeper relationship and building a family.
It's all about priorities. And, in my case, concerns.
A world of hurt
The world is increasingly divided, vulgar and less polite, it seems.
Who cares about someone's political leanings or faith? People should learn to co-exist, and try to find the goodness in everybody. Of course, talk radio, cable news and even the Crestview Bulletin's Facebook comments show us it doesn't always happen that way.
How can someone send a child into a world where there's always a derogatory term for "the opposition"? The ultimate goal always should be peace. And no issue is so important that it should cause strife.
Who wants a daughter to be heartbroken by some porn-addicted boy who doesn't know how to truly respect a woman, and himself? (Especially when so-called family sitcoms and dramas include nudity, toilet humor and make light of serious issues without considering the impacts on health and psychology, and how it affects viewers. Call me nostalgic, but family entertainment these days ain't the squeaky clean, ABC/TGIF "Family Matters" and "Full House" of the 1990s.)
Such concerns, for years, have made my priority for family go down, down, down. After all, you would want your children to be happy and, while I see opportunities for happiness, there's also a whole world of hurt out there. A world I often believed in and, like almost everyone else, accepted as the way things are before realizing status quo doesn't equal right.
Perhaps it's a moot point. With my filled schedule, it's difficult to meet marriage-minded women. (Oh, I tried eHarmony, Match, Plenty Of Fish, Catholic Match, Zoosk and the list goes on and on and on.) If they were marriage-minded, they were incompatible, only wanted someone in uniform — God bless our military, but in the dating world, that doesn't help us office dwellers who lack tattoos and camo — were too rugged (nope, not into mudding or four-wheelers) or they were too picky and wanted to pick me to pieces.
It's a two-way street, of course. Preconceived notions work both ways, but there was too much drama and not enough time to sort it all out. It was a desire, but wasn't a priority.
A friend and I always joke (and even talk seriously) about marrying and having children together. But she's in Mobile, Ala., and I'm in Crestview. We dated three years ago and enjoy spending time together (we talk on the phone daily but actually see each other every other week; sometimes, once a month). It's tough, but it's also good, because she's also a workaholic and stays active with church activities, and we don't label our relationship. (Her Valentine's Day card to me said, "Have enjoyed our 'friendship' ride this far. Here's to many more!")
However, this Father's Day, all those familiar questions will haunt me.
Several small voices, for another year, will cause me to wonder whether nature's calling or Disney, happily-ever-after movies are manipulating my consciousness, whether I'm ready to accept my vocation of marriage and family or wanting to change those question marks into periods and face finality.
Amid all this, something my brother, Frederick, a Catholic priest, says, is comforting.
"We are all spiritual fathers," he says, referring to every man's capacity to guide our community's children on a dignified path; whether that's indirectly through example, or directly through mentorship. (The counterpart is a spiritual mother who can watch out for all the world's children.)
In that sense, fatherhood doesn't seem so frightening.
Regardless of how you earned the title, Happy Father's Day. And check out our Father's Day photo pages! The first appears in the June 11-13 edition (on racks at these locations) and the second set of photos runs in the June 14-17 edition.
What's your view? Email News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni, firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @cnbeditor.