An Ode to Estranged and Forgotten Fathers

Fathers’ day is a mostly ignored holiday, a superficial holiday, one taken for granted and most good fathers understand and don’t take being mostly ignored badly.  Those that are recognized and treasured have an awesome reward.  But too many who deserve some sort of recognition are not remembered at all, or if remembered, remembered in ways that don’t do them justice.  Most great fathers don’t look for recognition or praise, they’re too busy doing.  Good and dutiful fathers who are there for their families.  But it’s a particularly difficult day for those fathers who would be there but for fate, for fathers estranged from their children, often as a result of family bitterness, manipulation and distortion.  And it’s a very difficult day for the forgotten fathers, those whose duty done, are pretty much discarded. 

I was estranged from my own father for most of my life and am now pretty much estranged from my own sons, two of whom are now fathers on their own.  And they’re great fathers I think.  I’ll be thinking of them all tomorrow, but I’ll also be thinking of estranged fathers everywhere.  

Freud once wrote something that comforts me in dark times, it went something like this: “in darker times there lived a man who thought as you do”.  For me, its meaning is that, regardless of how alone we feel in the quest for the right, if we recall that there were, are, or will be others in the same position, who also realize that there were, are, or will be others like them, a bond is formed among us and we are not really alone. 

So, to estranged and discarded fathers everywhere: “in dark times there lives a man who feels as you do, and doing so, remembers you today.”

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at and much of his writing is available through his blog at

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