No, this isn't going to be about my father, as much as he deserves his own blog post. Or 1,000. Especially because he put up with me when I was a teenager, which I became a month after my mother and his wife died.
And it won't be about his younger brother, who I sometimes wished (when I was that teenager) was my father instead of my lame, fallible father. But as an adult I came to see this Uncle as a man of many good qualities but a man nevertheless, a human, a man who did his best but made some mistakes. And, blessedly, he is still alive today.
No, this isn't about my Uncle either.
This father is someone I haven't met many times.
He is the father of one child, of my son's best friend.
This child has Aspergers Syndrome, which is considered by many to be on the "autistic spectrum". I have mentioned before that I have a brother in law with autism. So who knows but having an Uncle on the spectrum caused my son to befriend this young man. I don't think so, though. I think they just "clicked". They are both very hands on. Both love to work on cars. Both can be a handful at times, but this young man has never worn out the welcome sign on our porch.
This young man graduates from high school next Sunday, a year after his "cohort" would have graduated. But graduated he will do, which is no small feat in New York.
The father and also the Mom went to many many meetings with the schools, something called in New York a "CSE Committee" and at all times they did what they felt was right for their son. These meetings are so emotionally draining that you can only know if you've been to meetings like these.
Because of their advocacy, their son is the fine young man he is today.
During all this growing up time, the father had to serve at least one tour in Iraq and be a Dad long distance.
And another unsaid thing is, that the divorce rate among parents with children on the spectrum may be as high as 80% (although this figure is disputed.)
All parents hold their breaths as their children achieve independence.
The parents of a child with autism pray for his or her independence...and hold their breaths twice as hard. Many never achieve full independence. If this young man doesn't, or even if he does, this special father will have to be fully involved in his son's life for many years to come.
So on Father's Day, I salute this man. His Mom has been right there too, but in our society we tend to take that for granted.
Sometimes...you hate to say it but sometimes fathers, when they find out their children aren't perfect, cut and run. There is another woman I know, who had a son born prematurely, with many problems and that is just what her husband did.
Our father in question today didn't.
He stayed the course.
Happy Father's Day to you. And to all fathers with children on the spectrum who stay the course. And mothers.