When Superlatives Fall Short: A Father’s Day Remembrance

When Superlatives Fall Short: A Father’s Day Remembrance June 16, 2024

A picture of Christopher and his daughter Jaylah that his wife Keyonna took a few years ago.

This post is about the importance of fostering and cherishing good, better, best, and “bestest” memories of fatherhood and parenting. In my granddaughter’s experience, superlatives fall short in remembrance of her daddy on Father’s Day.

Stimulating the Brain with Exceptionally Superlative Goodness

Recently, I was with my son Christopher at his adult care facility. I called to speak to his daughter Jaylah and asked if she could talk to her daddy. Jaylah got on the phone. She immediately said to Christopher, “I love you, Daddy. You’re the bestest daddy in the whole world.” If that is not enough to stimulate a brain and heart with warm thoughts and affections, I do not know what will!

It was no time to explain to Jaylah that best is a superlative and cannot be ‘bettered’! Can you imagine how bad or at least how clueless a grandfather I would be if I were to take the opportunity to get my whiteboard out and lecture Jaylah on ‘good’ is a positive, ‘better’ is a comparative, and ‘best’ is a superlative? That would have been ‘mostest’ inappropriate.

The Importance of Memories

I thank God for the memories Jaylah has of special times with Christopher. Just the other day, I was speaking with Jaylah about the importance of memory. I almost referenced St. Augustine, who wrote in The Confessions, “The power of the memory is great, O Lord.” But I chose to restrain myself.

Jaylah and I were discussing the end of the school year and how she is going to miss her teachers. I shared in response that it is good that she will miss them, as it is far better to miss someone than to grieve over ever having met them. Jaylah listened attentively with a smile on her face, as I shared that she can always look back on how much she liked these special teachers. In recollecting them, she brings them into the present. Like good old Plato and the Catholic teaching on anamnesis, to recollect is “to make present.”

I went on to say that the same is true of her daddy. She brings those special times with her daddy into the present, whenever she thinks back to those early formative years from her earliest memories as an infant to the time he was taken from her soon after her fourth birthday three-and-a-half years ago.

Jaylah cherishes her memories of her times with Christopher. I recollect with her and long that I would be half as good as Christopher was/is as a father. How he cherished/cherishes Jaylah so. After all, he’s the “bestest.”

Creating New Memories

It is hard to discern how much Christopher remembers, how much the traumatic brain injury robbed him of his memory. Dr. Potter said that hopefully in time, we will be able to reteach him, providing him with new memories of the past. There is no better time than the present to talk to him about things Christopher did with his daughter, or things we did together when he was growing up, or qualities about his Grandpa Metzger, whom he cherished/cherishes. Like Christopher, my dad was “the bestest Daddy” in the whole world.

They say, sometimes genetic or inherited diseases miss a generation. Perhaps the same is true of good qualities, like “bestest” when attributed to fathers. I know of stories where dads have worked very hard to be better fathers to their kids than their dads were to them. Others try to make up for lost time and be better dads later in life. No matter what is the case, I encourage all of us who are dads to not waste the present moment and create new, good memories with our children, wherever and whenever possible. After all, the power of the memory is great. In fact, it just may be the ‘most greatest’ feature of the mind we may ever know.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

PS: In addition to the picture of Christopher with Jaylah at the outset of this post, here is a photo of Christopher with his grandpa when my son was just a boy, and one of Christopher and me taken in Seattle several years ago.


PS2: Finally, check out this hilarious clip of George Costanza with his parents in a Seinfeld episode. His parents try to ditch him. I often joked in the past that my parents were actually thrilled when I moved to Japan, England, and to the west coast. Heck, my dad even said on my wedding day, as soon as Mariko and I were hitched, “Now he’s her problem!” I love my dad’s sense of humor. I only hope he was joking then! Thanks for the memories, Dad! The memories of your loyal, steady love and faithfulness energize me in caring for Christopher!

If you wish to read the various entries on our family journey with Christopher and TBI, please click on this link. Thank you for your prayers.

About Paul Louis Metzger
Paul Louis Metzger, Ph.D., is Professor of Christian Theology & Theology of Culture, Multnomah Biblical Seminary, Jessup University, and Director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins. He is the author of numerous works, including More Than Things: A Personalist Ethics for a Throwaway Culture (IVP Academic, 2023). You can read more about the author here.
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