Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Missing My Dad (Memorial Day edition)
It’s been more than 11 long years since my dad’s been gone. It’s still amazing that so much life can go on after a death that significant, but it does. Life is relentless in how it refuses to pause and pay respect.
When he first died, I clung to memory. I desperately tried to hold on, scribbling down anything I could remember, moments, trips, quotes, character traits, how he looked, how he seemed, stories, pictures. I was so afraid he would fade away, that he wouldn’t be part of me anymore if he wasn’t around to create new memories, see me become a writer, have children, form a life, adopt, write a book.
Already having lost him, I was afraid of losing the only thing I had left — my memories.
In those 11 long years, I’ve learned to let him go. And like a memory that sticks, like something that’s part of the fabric of me, he keeps coming back to me in hints and whispers, like a breeze on the back of my neck.
There’s the funny stuff, like how whenever it was my turn to go out to breakfast with him on a Saturday morning, he would talk to me about vaginal warts (seriously!), how he’s seen them in the course of being a family doctor, and how I really, really didn’t want them (this in an attempt to keep me from having sex with boys, to be sure). Or how one of his favorite jokes was to shorten only one leg on my grandma’s — his mother’s — walker, so that she’d get up and then laugh, knowing her son was up to his usual pranks. There’s just the regular, every day stuff, like how he loved Cruisin’ USA video game in any arcade, or how he enjoyed golf, or how he never walked slowly anywhere.
Then there was his face at my college commencement. Normally reserved (like the Norwegian farm stock he was), he beamed (beamed!) as I crossed that stage. I smiled, too, but was also surprised: There could be no doubt in that moment. This was a father proud of his daughter. That memory is in the pocket right next to my heart.
Since he’s been gone, the presence of a Heavenly Father has been closer, more obvious. He took care of me when my father wasn’t there anymore. He sang his love songs over me when my dad couldn’t tell me anymore how he felt. After my dad was gone and I would feel insecure without his advice or approval, God taught me that I had everything I needed inside myself. And through the memories of my dad, God shows Himself and His character, too.
My dad is in the fabric of me, just as I’m weaving myself into the fabric of my children. And what is it they’ll remember? I hope it’s love, love, love, love. Constant, unending, relentless. And then they’ll weave that legacy of love into their children, too.