Herald Journal Columns
June 12, 2006, Herald Journal / Enterprise Dispatch

Celebrating my ‘father’ on Father’s Day

By Matt Kane

My two siblings and I took our mother to Como Park in St. Paul May 20.
Albeit the outing was six days late, the intent of the trip was to celebrate Mother’s Day by spending the day with her.

Looking back, with Father’s Day right around the corner, it occurred to me that my family’s belated celebration of Mother’s Day was not late at all, but perfect timing.

It happened between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day — because I look at my mom as both my mother and father.

Thousands and probably millions of kids grow up in one-parent families, and we Kane kids fell into that group after my father’s death in 1985.

The loss of our dad was devastating to us kids and my mom, for sure, but we carried on and are now grown adults making our marks in the world.

The National Center for Fathering — www.father.com — says, “There are almost 17 million children (25 percent) living with their single mothers.” For those who have lost a dad, people young and old, Father’s Day may not be the most celebrated of holidays, but in recent years, I have thought about it more and more, and have realized that, even though my dad is no longer with me, I have a reason to recognize the day. It turns out, I have had a “father” all along.

That being my mother.

Thinking in recent years about what dads are known for doing with their kids, it came to me that my mom did all those things.

Teaching them to drive. Road-tripping across the country. Tying skates. Playing a game of H-O-R-S-E. Having catch. Going to ball games. And, of course, a few wooden-spoon instances of discipline.

All that, I did with my mom.

So what does this column have to do with sports?

If you asked my mother, I’m guessing she would say, “a lot.”

Considering she served as my personal coach, athletic trainer, equipment manager, sports psychiatrist, nurse, bus driver, accountant, chef and agent, I would have to agree. And, of course, she kept my uniforms clean.

I can’t even estimate the number of baseballs she used to hit at me in the backyard.

And I’m sure she left a few hockey games with numb feet after standing in the snow for two hours, and with some sun-burned shoulders from watching dozens of baseball games all summer.

It seems to be true, that when we get older, we tend to appreciate things we took for granted during our youth.

For me, one of these things is spending time with my mother.

I have a feeling many of the rides to the rink ended without me telling my mom “Thanks, for the ride.” Because of this, and in recognition of her accepting the role of a “father” in our household, I want to use this Father’s Day holiday to say thank you, mom.

Thanks for driving all those miles to places like Crosby, Park Rapids and Bagley.

Thanks for taking me to the doctor’s office for the many injuries I sustained during my high school athletic career, and for being by my side when I had those injuries mended. Thanks for the countless Scrabble games. Thanks for letting me get behind the wheel to drive through my first city — Columbus, Ohio — when the two of us took a road trip to see grandma. And thanks for letting me take a few chances in life, even if it meant moving thousands of miles away.

Although I was reluctant to move back to Minnesota, I do cherish the more frequent opportunities I have to see my mom and the rest of my family.

Telephone calls with my mother are often short and to the point, but I do take note of them and appreciate her concerns and interest in my life.

I guess the point of this column is: just because someone doesn’t have a dad in their life, doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t have a father figure in his or her life.

I hope, someday, if I become a dad, I can be half the father my mother has been.

And I promise you one thing this Father’s Day, mom. You will not be getting a necktie.

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