Sunday, 19 June 2011

Dear Father...

 A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.  ~Edward de Bono

I’m listening to Neil Diamond’s “Dear Father” from Jonathan Livingston Seagull right now. Seems appropriate.  

I guess you know today is Father’s Day, Daddy. And, oh God, I still have to remind myself that you aren’t here to celebrate it.

Before you tell me you’re in a better place, I do know that. I find comfort in that. Comfort in the fact you’re whole, healthy. In fact, I still keep seeing visions of you at 18 years old, in the army. Before I knew you.  And I tell myself it’s really you, not just a wishful thought. It’s you, telling me you’re fine. That you don’t need your oxygen machine anymore. You can go anywhere you want now without having to lug your little portable oxygen device. And you assure me that is something I should be happy about. And I am. Believe me, Daddy, I am. 

But. Of course there is a ‘but’ to this. I went to Walmart on the way home from work the other evening, Daddy. I needed to go the card aisle to get you a Father’s Day card; and, damn it, I got hit with it—you are gone.  You are gone. No more cakes. No parties. No cards. Never again.  

I mean, really. Do you realize how hard it was to find the perfect card for you every year? You hated those schmaltzy cookie cutter cards just as much as I did. And they were not you. So my yearly mission was to find the card—the card that reflected you. And let me tell you. It was hard. Because you weren’t one of those Hallmark Daddies. You were good ol’ Daddy, plain ol’ Daddy. 

Hallmark insisted on taking the pure ol’ goodness, the ‘Daddy-ness’ away from you and turning you into an ad for Disneyland. They just didn’t get the reality of you.

I suppose I never realized it at the time, but you were so big and important—so crucial in my life—it went far beyond what any Hallmark poem could ever convey. Somehow, their sentiments seemed silly in light of your practicality, your down-to-earth existence, the humanness of you. And your brand of ‘ordinary-ness’ and steadfastness was so easily taken for granted, because it was SO constant I became to expect it—never realizing it was as essential as air which I also take in stride.

The cards were right about one thing, though, Daddy. Every single one of those pesky cards said, I don’t tell you I love you as often as I should.  How did those card writers know that most of us kids do not do that? Well, I suppose they were all kids, too? Well, they were right. I did not tell you as often as I should. Hell, looking back, I don’t suppose I told you much at all. I figured you knew, anyway. And I’m sure you did. But I bet you would have loved to have heard it more often. 

Well, we won’t have to be bothered by those irritating American Greetings anymore, will we?  

Oh, Daddy, I wish it really did make me feel better to tell myself that. That I’m glad to be relieved of that chore every year—that quest for the Ark of the Covenant of Father’s Day cards, the Holy Grail of greetings. 

But it does not. I’d gladly spend all night in stupid Walmart to find you a stupid card if you were just still here. All night, I’d look for a card. I wouldn’t care how sugary it was, how silly. If you could just be here for me to give it to you.  

Well, I’ve whined enough. Father’s Day is nearly over now. Good. So maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and not miss you so much? Fat chance.

Daddy, I sure do miss you. I miss you so much. Didn’t get you a card. But—wherever you may be—Happy, happy Father’s Day. I love you.


Unknown said...

That's really sweet, Carol. The pain never ends when you lose a parent. And yeah, we never tell them often enough that we love them. Course, Dad would have gotten all gruff and not have a clue how to react, but you'd know inside he loved hearing it.

C. Zampa said...

Hey, Pat!
Oh, yes, they didn't know how to react, did they? I remember that, too! But, like you said, we knew they loved to hear it anyway!
Thanks for visiting!

Christiane France - Author said...

That's beautiful, Carol. My dad has been gone 30+ years, but he'll never be forgotten. He was such a kind and patient man, and I'll always remember the night he came to the bus stop to meet me after work and let me know that his sister who was my favorite aunt had just died.


C. Zampa said...

Thank you for visiting, Christiane!
Nope, we do not forget them, do we? And thanks for sharing your memory of your Dad meeting you at the bus stop. That touched my heart.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Beautifully said. My dad's been gone 28 years and it still stings every Father's Day that I can't buy that special card, let alone find it.

Thank you, Carol, for saying what's in my heart.

Happy Father's Day.

C. Zampa said...

Thank you, Joylene!
Isn't it funny how time does NOT make it go away? And that's good, though, I suppose. We'd never want their memories to be lost.

Tess MacKall said...

I've been glancing over at the mahogany chest that holds my daddy's ashes all day. I always say good morning to him each day. But today it's been difficult to focus just knowing he's there and it's Father's Day.

Not a day goes by that something doesn't cross my mind that only he would know the answer to. So every day I'm reminded that he's gone. That shock hits me and I have to squeeze my eyes shut against the tears. I guess I'll always feel a bit orphaned no matter how old I get.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Carol.

Cassie Exline said...

Very moving post. My dad has been gone a year and it's very hard for this Caddy's girl. Even at my age I still called him "Daddy." At least we have beautiful memories to treasure.

C. Zampa said...

Tess, I know so well what you mean about a question coming to your mind that only he would know!
I do that as well. That urge to pick up the phone, to remind him that one of his favorite WWII films is going to be on television that night, or--like you said--to ask him that question.

Never leaves us, does it?
Hugs to you!

C. Zampa said...

Oh, Cassie, I'm so sorry about your Dad. That is so recent, and I can sure feel your pain.

We never stop missing them,but you're right. We do have those beautiful memories.

Hugs to you as well!

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you. Be strong. I'm sure he's watching over you.

Cher Green

Lisa Alexander Griffin said...

Whether we say "I love you" enough, Carol, I'm sure your dad knew how much you loved him. Actions always speak louder than words.

((hugs to you, hon))

C. Zampa said...

Hello, Cher! You know, that's one thing that does make me feel good...knowing he does watch out, and that he's healthy again!

Thanks for visiting! Hugs to you, too!

C. Zampa said...

Hugs, Lisa!
You're right. Actions do speak louder than words, and I can rest assured he did know I loved him, whether I picked just the right cards or said 'I love you' as often as I could have.

((hugs to you))

Harlie Williams said...

I still have my dad but I miss both of my grandfathers very, very much. In fact, Sunday one of my grandfather's would have been 96 and on the 21st my other grandfather would have been 95. I lost them when they were in their 60's and I miss them terribly every day.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your dad. He does watch over you every day and he would be proud that you are an author.