I know it has been a little while, and any day seems a good day to sit down and throw thoughts randomly onto a piece of paper. Life rarely seems to allow it though, and even when I feel the urge many times a pile of papers or clothes or kids tend to distract me. But a quiet moment surfing the social media sites and seeing all the well wishes to all the wonderful dads out there left me suddenly aware of something very important. Something missing. Something that I did not feel the absence of until it is time to put the kids to bed.
This is the fifth year that I have not called my dad to wish him a Happy Father’s Day.
You may ask why. Who wouldn’t call their dad on Father’s Day, or send a card? What kind of horrible daughter am I?
Well, I could sit here all night listing my failures as a daughter (or maybe all week), rattle off the pains my father and I have caused each other, the multitude of barriers in our lives to a strong, healthy relationship. But none of them would be the reason I did not call today…or last year. But unlike last year, I was not saddened by this absence earlier in my day.
I spent the day yesterday with my husband’s family, even getting involved in a very spirited game of soccer. I married into a very competitive family and had lots of competitive offspring. Who knew soccer could be a contact sport? It was the most fun I think I have had with my father-in-law in the last twelve years of marriage. The laughs, the sweat, the jokes…none of them stirred the yearning for contact with my father or any memories of fun times we had.
At church, the kids made goodie bags for their dads. We headed home to make the hubby breakfast for lunch, including not so over-easy eggs, toast, pancakes, bacon and American fries. And he only got up once to “help” check the thick bacon. A quick shopping trip with my mom (and two crazy kids who I SHOULD have left home no matter what they said), a few shows on Netflix with the kids, fend for yourself dinner, and just lazing around. Nothing big, hubby at work. But most of all, no thoughts of connecting with my dad.
No, I am not some insensitive whelp of a child. I love my father. And I have tons of great memories of growing up. Yes, there are bad ones too. But those I choose not to dwell on. I have so many more good memories. Building wooden cars in the garage for my cousins for Christmas. Catching a tarantula in a glass mason jar. Listening to him play his guitar. Driving somewhere, anywhere, and turning off the radio to hear my parents sing a song together. Watching my dad play soccer, teach me how to be the goalie. Cheering on my dad when he played softball. Helping him mow the lawn. Rooting for the Wildcats together.
Why don’t I just pick up the phone? Simply because there is no one on the other end.
My father passed away five years ago in February. Brain tumors. He was not expected to live another six months. We were hopeful, but a part of me knew. I think I knew in my heart that he would not make it to Father’s Day, or even to the birth of my son. I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted so badly to see him hold my son. But the fact remained that he was gone.
There would be no more cards, no more phone calls, no more emails or IMs, no more texts, no facebook. There would be no more visits to grandpas.
I sit here and wonder. I can’t call my dad to wish him a Happy Father’s Day and I am not sad. Is it because my dad and I weren’t terribly close, in relationship or in distance? That he wasn’t that huge of a part of my life that his absence isn’t felt so strongly? Does that make me a bad person because I didn’t have a closer connection to my father? Is that wrong?
Honestly, I don’t think so. I do not ache, because it serves no purpose in my life. I will not be a better person for weeping daily over the loss of my father. I will not build strong relationships with my children by mourning. I can not bring my father back with any of my tears. Instead, I hear him in my laugh. I see him in the eyes of my mischievous son. I feel him in the strum of my guitar. I smell him in the stands of the baseball diamond.
And I remember.