Up until this year, Father’s Day was a holiday just like Mother’s Day to me. I never used to question the origin of this symbolic day.

But now I have a friend, who has become more like a brother, parenting solo.

As I looked up the history of this holiday, I was surprised to learn it was founded by Sonora Smart Dodd, whose father was also a single parent and raised six kids. That really hits close to home this year as I celebrate my friend from afar.

Less than a year ago, tragedy struck and took his wife, my dearest friend. Not only did she leave him a widower, but their two young children lost their mother. On their first Mother’s Day since her passing, they celebrated her at her favorite spot. He made sure the kids had a memorable day and took a picture of their mom and placed it in the sand so she could hear the waves rolling in. They laughed at how she would have eventually wanted to leave because it was getting too cold. They hugged her picture tight while their dad captured the moment to share with their loved ones. Mother’s Day was hard for him, but he put aside his pain and grief to make sure their children still celebrated their mom.

Father’s Day will be even tougher, and I understand why.

He would be celebrated and loved upon by all of them. I can picture her taking their kids to get a gift for their dad. It is she who would have taken charge and planned the day.

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But knowing him, he will never say that he should be celebrated on this Father’s Day. However, he should be celebrated more than his humble self would ever allow. He was the one who picked up all the pieces for their family. He carries so much weight but puts it aside every time for their children. His shoulders sink from the heaviness of the day, yet he brings a smile to his children from sunrise to sunset.

That takes a special man.

Keeping track of their activities, cheering them on at every game, organizing playdates and sleepovers, and celebrating birthdays are just some of his superhuman powers. Guiding his children through a pandemic and raising honor roll kids is not a task for the weary, only the strong.

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My friend knew the man she married was the best dad. I would sit still on the phone and let her tell me stories about game nights and how her husband would want to make sure that their family time never got interrupted. He put them above all else. And she soaked it all in. She loved the man she married but she looked up to the father he became with so much pride.

Happy Father’s Day, V. You are an inspiration to us all.

Zeel Patel

Zeel Patel lives in North Carolina with her family and sweet puppy, Theodore Roosevelt. She works in healthcare but her passion is writing. When not working, you can find her volunteering at her kids' schools, typing away on her laptop, or reading well into the night. Her motivation comes from those who were not granted enough time to finish their story. Follow her on Twitter @zpatel24