I had planned on writing about Iona for this blog post, but my dad kept tapping on my shoulder and appearing in my dreams. He passed away January 15, 2012. Initially, I was in relief mode because he had suffered horribly for two years and was no longer the big, strong dad I had known all of my life, but grief changes its face constantly and loves to catch you off guard. It also sometimes puzzles you. I’ve known for a few months that I was really starting to miss him, but that didn’t feel like the whole story. I couldn’t quite name exactly how I was missing him.
I have been reading Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies and when I got to the chapter titled “Dad”, this amazing writer took her metaphorical hammer and hit me between the eyes. On this material plane I am no longer the apple of any one’s eye. I am no longer daddy’s little girl. (He used to love it when I played a song by that name on the piano.) For as long as I can remember, I’ve walked around knowing that there was one person who thought I was beyond wonderful, who was proud of the woman I’d become, who loved me unconditionally. That’s the hole in my life. The ache that I suspect will never go away. It’s not a sharp pain, more like the headache that threatens when the barometric pressure is changing.
I can’t write about my relationship with my dad without bringing in my mother, because she did her best to destroy my relationship with him. I look just like him. My DNA is imprinted with his patience, his impish sense of humor, his love of family and his sense of right and wrong. He was also my protector and tried his best to deflect my mother’s constant disapproval of me. That wasn’t always easy and I’m sure he paid a high price for it. If he did, he never said a word to me about it. He never said one bad thing about her as I was growing up. There are things I know I did that hurt him because my mother had such an influential grip on me. When I grew up and got away from her, he and I talked about those things. He understood and let go of it, most likely because he was the one of the few people on earth who understood the slyness of her toxicity.
He influenced how I parent my son. I learned from him the importance of honoring your child as the person they truly are, to always be there without intrusiveness and to love without strings.
Everywhere I turn there are reminders that Father’s Day is coming up. He loved getting cards from me, especially on a dad’s special day. Last year on Father’s Day he was in the hospital suffering from sepsis and unable to shave himself. I went out and got him an electric shaver. You’d have thought I bought him a new car. He was still telling me how much he liked it at Christmas time. It was something that made his life a little easier. This year I don’t think I can let the day pass without buying him a card. I will simply write Dad on the envelope, as I always did, and just drop it in the mailbox. I truly believe he will receive it. Love you, Dad.
Rebekah for the Poplar Grove Muse