In some ways, I have been preparing to write about fatherlessness for most of my life. My father drowned when I was 3 years old, and I have spent much of my life longing for him. The truth is, I never really understood what I was longing for until our first child, Jaime, turned four years old. I will never forget that moment. I was pushing her down a hill on her tricycle, and we both were laughing wildly. Suddenly, this thought came to my mind: My daddy was gone by this time in my life. There was no laughter in my life at 4 years old, only loneliness and confusion.
Every day since that tricycle ride has been a continued revelation of my life absent of fatherhood. I am 67 years old, and I can’t remember a day when I didn’t miss my dad. Every time I had a crisis, I thought, “I wish my dad were here.” He would know what to do. My office is filled with mementos of places I’ve been, books I’ve written and things I’ve accomplished. On the entry wall of my office is a picture of my dad. I hung it there strategically to remind myself that my father would be proud of me if he could see the man I’ve become.