Father and sons

It’s Father’s day today, and this year I’ll write about a great father.

He became a father in his late twenties. His firstborn was a bright child, his inquisitive brown eyes always wanting to know more about life. Then he became a father again, of another lively boy, and from the first moment he was totally involved with his sons, doing all the things that are normal for today’s fathers but were not so usual back then: changing diapers, feeding them, getting up when they cried during the night…

Then he and their mother divorced and his heart was broken when – as was the custom – she was awarded their custody. No joint custodies then, judges were blind; they thought only mothers were fit to raise children. Although he thought – and knew – otherwise, still he accepted it.

Time went by, and he could see his sons were not happy. He decided to fight for their custody and it was hard, but in the end he won it, even if this meant he had to go back to court every 6 months for the judge to “evaluate the situation” – in other words, to confirm that he was taking good care of his sons and they were happy with him – as they were. Apparently judges then thought that men were not “equipped” to raise children on their own…

How happy he was, coming home every evening to find them waiting for him, to have dinner together and listen to their adventures at school, to tuck them into bed and kiss them good night…although he had a demanding career, his parents and sister helped him a lot and he did his best to come home as early as possible. All his spare time was for them.

When it happened, he was far away in Rio. His sister called and told him the appalling news: the mother of his boys had suddenly died in a tragic accident!

Devastated, he was on the first plane back to Lisbon – how on earth was he going to explain this to the boys? But he just had to. He stood by them; he was there, solid as a rock. He was both mother and father to them, and with the support of his close knit family, he took his boys by the hand and led them into manhood.

His elder son was always a good student and soon he graduated in Marketing and went to Brazil for an internship. His younger boy went through some difficult times but finally also found his way and is now happy in his work and in a stable relationship with a bright and loving girl, and they are clearly suited to each other.

At 22 his elder son found a job in Barcelona and went to live there. Since then they have never lived in the same city again, but never have I seen two people living together communicate and talk as much as those two! They are constantly in touch, be it by WhatsApp, Skype, phone…they constantly consult each other about everything, they discuss their decisions, they share their thoughts…his son often comes to visit his father and brother (who is still at home) and they all go on motorbike rides together. For his birthday the three of them always take a few days’ holiday together and again they enjoy those unique father and sons moments that make them so happy.

He was a proud father on his elder son’s wedding day to a beautiful, intelligent, Catalan girl. In his “Father of the bridegroom” speech he described in a few words the unique relationship he shares with this son (and managed – I don’t know how – to keep his emotions at bay and finish the speech without any tears, even if one could see he was trying hard not to cry!): “He is a son to me, but he is also like a father, and above all he is a friend – this is the relationship we have. In all these years, complicity has always been there; I don’t need to talk about it or describe it. Even in the distance, without seeing each other face to face, the tone of our voice is enough to tell the other what we are thinking of…and when we are together – a look will suffice”. What a beautiful way to describe this very special relationship.

So this is the father, and these are the sons that will, again, celebrate Father’s day today.

May they have a wonderful day, today and every year. May they spend joyful moments together, now and in the future; may his boys have children that will sit on their grandfather’s knee and hug him as his own sons used to.

I’m certain that one day, when this father’s hair has gone white, he will look proudly back and see he has done a great job.

And he will say, as Cat Stevens sang in his heart-rending song “Father and son”: “I am old, but I’m happy”.



…and, since it is Father’s day, I cannot help but blow a kiss to my own dear father, who is watching over me and my sons, I know, from another – far away and yet so close – dimension, and hope that he is happy too. And send him all my love.