Before I start, I have no idea if this will be hard or easy to write. I don't in any way want this blog to turn into some Debbie Downer site (or Teary Traci, as the case may be), but I know I'm not the only one who has to face some "holidays" with someone missing. Father's Day is a big one of those around here.
The Facebook "game" was to change your profile picture to one of your father. My first thought was that my daddy was gone before digital photos. My second was, "Hey! I have a scanner!"
Daddy died twelve days before Christmas 1999. He'd been diagnosed that January with melanoma, had surgeries, did chemo and radiation, went into remission. But it came back with a vengeance, and our family lost an amazing husband, father, and grandfather.
But that's just how it ended. That's only why Father's Day is a little sad now, because we'd much rather he was still here. How he lived is much more interesting, and gives a lot better memories than the last year of his life.
Dad was a pharmaceutical rep for as long as I can remember. He worked from home when he wasn't traveling, so he was often home when I got home from school. I realize now how unusual that was. In the summer, I'd go with him on one of his routes to -- ready for this exotic location? -- Abilene, San Angelo, and Brownwood! I couldn't wait! Motels and swimming pools! Now he'd probably be arrested for child abandonment, because I'm sure I stayed at the motel alone in the mornings when he went on sales calls. I just remember the swimming pools.
He drove me crazy when I was a teenager. To hear my mom tell it, we were exactly alike (Scorpios) and wanted our own way (who, me?), so conflicts were inevitable. I look back now, as a parent, and just wonder how he didn't strangle me on a regular basis. Or send me to boarding school.
|Dad at our wedding, 1988|
I had to grin recently in the grocery store when I passed an older man, standing in front of a row of sauces, talking on a cell phone. It was clear from a few overheard words that he was speaking to his wife. "I don't see it. I looked there. No, it's not. What? Why would it be there? Do you really need that kind?" I just knew that this was a scene that would have played out a hundred times for my parents. Cell phones were just coming into more common use when Daddy died, and he would likely have resisted to the very last ever using one. Texting? Oh please.
He was not Mr. Fix-It. He really wanted to be, but that gene skipped him completely. He had a strong moral code, and we called him Crusader Rabbit (he had the t-shirt) when he took on City Hall over something. I heard him say a cuss word once in my entire life (and he didn't know I heard him). He loved to sing, and really wanted to be better at it. He settled for having my mom's beautiful voice next to him in church every Sunday.
He taught my stepson how to hug. For that matter, he was the first man my husband hugged on a regular basis. I will never forget, about 4 months after he died, going to the store one evening. I made an offhand comment about some memory during the drive to the store. Next thing I knew, tears were on my strong husband's face, because he loved him just as much.
I want him to know that his wife and kids are doing well. That we're happy and healthy, and that we miss him still.
More than anything, I want him to know about his grandchildren amd great-grandchildren. That his first granddaughter is a lawyer, and planning to get married. That his first grandson is now a father of a precious baby girl. That his first great-grandson has his name. That his sons' daughters are loving, beautiful young women. That my baby loves God with all her heart.
For my husband, the father of our daughter, it's also a sad time. His strong, strapping dad left this earth about nine months after my father. And 18 months later, both of us wanted our daddies more than we ever had in our lives -- as our own boy went to join them in heaven.
But losing fathers and even losing a child doesn't negate Father's Day. And when you're a parent, it's more important to remember the lessons you learn from those amazing fathers in your life: how to love, how to hug, what's important, and that people matter. I know that tears may be there, but I hope they are matched by the smiles from the happy memories we have of those we love, no matter where they are. If you're blessed to be able to still hug them in person, hold on a little extra long this year. Just tell them it's from me.