Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Father's Day Tribute: Final Lessons

by Patrick McGann
Director of Strategy and Planning

[NOTE: In my last blog, I began explaining how I came to work at Men Can Stop Rape; I am taking a break from that to write about my father but will pick it up again next week.]

In the late 1950s at about the age of four, I shaved the area above my upper lip with my father’s razor.

If I had watched my father in the mornings more closely, I might have put on shaving cream first. But I hadn’t sorted out all the steps and so went everywhere with a bandage for a week or two. Two memories stand out: screaming when the bleeding started and trying to eat ice cream with the bandage above my lip.

I never learned the shaving lesson very well. To this day, I’ll only use an electric razor, and I’m not good about consistently using it. He taught me well in other, more important areas, though, related to men and masculinity. His most recent lessons are about how to be a man facing death and dying.

At 85, he’s developed Alzheimer’s, had a heart attack, and most recently bladder cancer. He went through chemo and radiation, which proved successful but only for a short while. The cancer returned and now, because radiation is no longer an option, he’s starting chemo again, which will slow down the cancer but won’t eliminate it. I don’t know how many more Father’s Days I’ll have with him.

Last week at the doctor’s office, he stood up and told them they couldn’t make him re-enlist. Even though I’m assuming he was referring to the military, I think the statement could be applied to the medical system. The last couple years he’s been put through the wringer when it comes to health care, spending more time being diagnosed and treated than a college student spends on Facebook.

The nurses always say how sweet he is. My sisters tell me how sweet he is. That’s not a word I typically would use to describe men. And that’s not how I would have described him in the past. Independent. Sure. Silent type. Uh huh. Stubborn. Yep. Caring. Absolutely. Sweet?

When I visited my parents in January, Dad and I put a lot of puzzles together – or I put puzzles together and he helped. It was sweet how appreciative he was when I went out and bought more after we had finished the ones my sister had gotten. It was sweet how I would start working on a puzzle by myself, and he would see me and join in. It was sweet how excited he got when he found pieces that fit together. It was sweet how complimentary of me he was when we completed one.

When I’m facing the end of my life, I want to be sweet, like my father.

Men Can Stop Rape is committed to playing a larger role in this country's discussion on fatherhood. This year, we will launch the Fatherhood Initiative: a series of workshops, conversations, and resources geared toward engaging men around the concept of positive and healthy versions of fatherhood. With your help, we can bring Men Can Stop Rape's message and positive lessons to the youngest of boys and their families, through fathers.

This Father's Day, please donate and support Men Can Stop Rape's Fatherhood Initiative.

We want to hear from you! Send us your stories about the importance and impact of having your father present in your life. Your story could be featured on Men Can Stop Rape's website.

Patrick McGann, Ph.D. has been involved with Men Can Stop Rape (MCSR) since the organization’s inception in 1997. As Director of Strategy and Planning, Patrick co-authored a sexual assault prevention strategy for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in 2008 and oversaw the development of the HURTS ONE. AFFECTS ALL. public education campaign for DoD in 2010. He regularly gives presentations across the country on engaging men in the prevention of gender-based violence. Share

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