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.