Let’s remember and honor all fathers, living or dead, on Father’s Day

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As I See It

By ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO

Raising our children is difficult! It is even more difficult if a father singlehandedly raised them. Wow, it’s really a tough job, I tell you! I have six children with my wife Delia and we really struggled to raise them until such time that they will be able to stand in their own two feet. Our youngest is now 25 years old and all of them are now ready to face their own families.

Last Sunday, my children who were complete for the first time after 10 years due to physical distance, tendered a father’s day sumptuous dinner for me at a Chinese restaurant –Fortune Restaurant in Milpitas. It was a day of fun and full of bonding reminiscing our memories as a family through the years.

Since the last time we were complete as a family was in 2008, this year’s reunion is indeed a very memorable one. My eldest Edel “Gigi” Estioko-Malapitan came from Sydney, Australia where she resides with her husband Eric, who was not able to join us due to prior work commitment in the hospital. My second to the eldest John Edward “Jojo” from Jacksonville, Florida was joined by his wife Alvi and children Reanna Kayla, 13 and Jianna Camille, 14. Mary Rose and her boyfriend Steve Law were with us too. Newlywed Rose Anne Joy “Tweety” was with her husband Jonathan Carino Rasay, who is in the US Army assigned in Oahu, Hawaii. The rest of the children include Charles Jayson and Paul Joseph.

All of them chipped in to pay the bills, a siblings’ way of sharing, as a sign of their love for me. Of course, my wife Delia was with us to complete the family celebrating Father’s Day.

Father’s Day, like Mother’s Day, has a history that goes well beyond greeting cards and saying hello to everyone. Records show that the first known Father’s Day service occurred at the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South in Fairmont, West Virginia. That was on July 5, 1908 and it was through the efforts of Grace Golden Clayton. Mrs. Clayton had asked her pastor, Dr. R. Thomas Webb, if a Sunday service could be held to honor fathers. It took a woman to initiate the event, a gesture she did to remember her father who singlehandedly raised them to maturity.

While missing her own dad, who had died in 1896, Mrs. Clayton especially wanted to have a service to remember not only to her father, but to over 200 fathers who had died in the Monongah mining explosion that had occurred a few miles south of Fairmont on December 6 of the previous year. The Monongah mining explosion was the worst mining disaster in U.S. history, killing more than 360 men and boys, and leaving about 1,000 children fatherless. She extended the celebration not only to remember her father but to all fathers who raised their children who were victims of the incident.

Although the Fairmont service was the first known to honor fathers, it did not turn into an annual event, although it gained momentum after a few years. While several other people across the nation had similar ideas throughout the years, it was Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd who was credited for being the one who popularized it which led to Father’s Day becoming a U.S. national holiday. Again, it took another woman to popularize it until such time that it became a national holiday.

Listening to a sermon on Mother’s Day in 1909, Mrs. Dodd thought that it might be nice to honor fathers as well. When her mom died, her father William Smart raised his six children alone on his farm in Washington. Mrs. Dodd proposed to the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA that they celebrate a “father’s day.” She chose the 5th of June because it was her father’s birthday.

The idea was strongly supported by many of the members of he congregation, but the ministers of Spokane asked that the day be changed to give them extra time to prepare sermons on the unexplored subject of fathers. So, the first Father’s Day in Spokane, Washington, was observed on Sunday, June 19, 1910 and became an annual celebration and other towns later had their own celebrations as well.

Father’s Day, however, did not become a permanent national holiday despite widespread support. Subsequently in 1913, Congress introduced a bill, but in spite of encouragement and support by President Woodrow Wilson, it did not pass. Luckily, in 1966 US President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June to honor fathers.

The proclamation did not last long but finally in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a law declaring that Father’s Day be celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June. It has been an official, permanent national holiday ever since. Wow, what a rocky formation to a yearly celebration for fathers who sacrifice raising their children to maturity?

I remember my late father Marciano Sr. who, jointly with my mother Leonor, raised their 13 children. It was a feat to reckon with and with this I would like to honor my father raising us until we all became professionals and have families of our own. He is the best father I can ever remember in the whole universe. Dad, we love you!

Equally, I would like to honor my wife’s dad Jose Ventura, who also with his wife Sofia, raised their nine children, despite all the odds in life. To him, Happy Father’s Day in Heaven!

To all the fathers in the world, I honor you and recognize your efforts in raising your children! Happy father’s day to all of you! You deserve the best accolade!

To all would-be fathers, you will be going through the process of raising your future children, a process all of us fathers went through. Love your children and raise them to be worthy members of the family and to the community.

(For feedbacks, comments… please email the author @ estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).

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