I suppose it is the Grinch in me that rises up on holiday and celebration days, wishing that the day would pass quickly and I could get on with the rest of the year, but this year today seems right for a bit of reflection.
When I was younger my father and I had a bit of a distant relationship – I have written about this on previous blog posts and won’t repeat my thoughts here. I always did feel loved by my father even though we did not spend much time talking about our relationship. As an adult I thought that I would not like to repeat that past with my own child.
Carol was pregnant shortly after my military service was over and although I was probably not the most mature adult on the planet; the prospect of fatherhood was one of great joy and anticipation. I was really thinking that I did not want to have a son – the Vietnam era was in full swing and I did not relish the thought of having a son who would eventually have to face decisions about the military; decisions that for me, in hindsight, would have been made differently and caused many complications.
Carol lived for a time with Peace Corps workers in Chad and when she was there the Chadians had a difficult time with the hard consonants in her name and asked her if they could call her Zeneba. When our daughter was born and we considered names for her we waited for a bit for her personality to emerge and when the naming time arrived it was just a small step to consider Zeneba as the proper name. That name translated loosely to ‘father’s pride’ and so that was the name on which we agreed.
As Zeneba grew her personality became crystal clear – strong, independent, and loving. Hoping that I had learned from my own past, I did my best to communicate with her, letting her know how much I valued and respected her, encouraging her to cherish her strength, her independence, and her loving nature as she developed into a young adult. There were bumps along that road – I was a bit mystified about her older teen age years and we perhaps did not talk as much then as we did when she was younger. Nevertheless, she became and remains a person in whom I take great pride. She is a strong woman living in a patriarchal world, overcoming obstacles, and surpassing expectations and limits that others would impose upon her. It seems that the role of a father is to facilitate that kind of growth and it has been my extreme pleasure to provide what I was able.