Another father’s day is almost upon us and as always it caused me to think about my father. My father died when I was seven years old, almost twenty years ago. When people ask me about my father, on the rare occasion that they do(people expect me to someones father now), I usually just say “he died.” I joke about it with friends at times, I’m a fan of dark humor. There is a strange sort of comfort in friends willing to joke about it with me. It takes away the discomfort that often accompanies discussing the death of a loved one and is a nice change of pace from the looks of pity or sadness I get from strangers.
Last year on father’s day, I put up a facebook status that said “Every fathers day I used to feel a little left out since my dad is dead. But as an adult I think…more money in my pocket. #brightside #cheapskate.” Some see stuff like that as disrespectful but, gotta laugh at your pain sometimes, right? I did go out and get a tattoo in his memory like a week later so it all balances out. So yesterday I was trying to come up with another joke status for fathers day, I didn’t get far, I’m not a great joke teller or creator. My top two were, “Me and my dad were driving to the cemetery, just kidding he lives there” and “People always assume that my father is a deadbeat because he isn’t around. It’s not that he’s a deadbeat, he just has no heartbeat.” The first wasn’t original I modified an existing joke and my friend told me the latter just sounded sad.
So I decided not to joke about it this year, at least not on Facebook. But I thought this might be something worthwhile to blog about because it might help someone or if not it’ll be cathartic. I came across a quote on a parenting website that struck a chord with me because of the truth in it. The quote is as follows:
“Special days are far from festive for kids who have lost a parent. Rather than moments of celebration, they are often painful reminders of an incomplete family and an uncertain future.”
This quote seems to refer to the immediate effects of losing a parent. While my family did feel incomplete for a little while, we eventually found new roles within our family unit and developed a new normal. Of course, there was a void where my father should have been, and still is, but we’ve moved on. While I’m no longer a child, there were moments when I was that I remember vividly. Moments where I should have been happy but I was sad and in tears because my dad wasn’t there. For some reason holidays didn’t evoke those emotions, probably because I was distracted and kept busy by family obligations. But there were other festive occasions where I would miss him, my big ones were graduations and birthdays.
I don’t know if I haven’t healed properly from the loss of my father, if it is possible to heal completely from that type of loss, but I still get those moments at times. They are few and far between now and seemingly random, but father’s day has been a consistent period where I start to miss him. I guess it makes sense, this day is all about fathers and mine is gone. However, as an adult the grief has morphed into something different than it was when I was a child. As a child it was more just about missing his presence. As an adult I grieve for the moments I will never get to have as a man.
I never got the chance to know my father as an adult, all my memories are framed through the lens of a child. I’ll never get the chance to call him up for advice about life. As a male sometimes I need life advice that only a father figure could give, and as that slot is empty, I have no one to call or talk to. I’ll never know if hes proud of the man I’ve become. That one does a number on me sometimes. When and if I have kids, he’ll never get to meet them and they will never have known him. When I find someone to call my own, he’ll never get to give his seal of approval or disapproval. They will never get to meet him. The list goes on. I grieve for these moments some which happen(ed) and those which haven’t come to pass yet.
Perhaps one day I’ll find peace in his loss but I haven’t yet, at least not in the moments when it weighs on me. I’ve read different things how to deal with grief. Some suggest doing things to honor the deceased. Some of these include: Performing their favorite past time or hobby, listening to their favorite music, cooking their favorite food, all those are out for me. I didn’t know my father well enough to know any of those things about him. I could visit his grave, but I was always taught growing up that the deceased is not in the grave. Their spirit has gone on there is nothing in there but a decaying body. As an atheist, I don’t even believe there is a spirit so that activity seems doubly pointless to me, ha. I’ve written letters to him that he will never read, that helps some. I also remember the good times, the few that I have to remember. A good cry always helps.
All in all though, I do know my father was a good man. He came from a big family and had an equally large heart. He served his country, took care of his family, and touched the lives of many who knew him. He valued education, he taught me how to read my first book(more like forced, I wanted to play with my toys lol), and was saving for my college education. He had high hopes for my future.
This father’s day I’ll remember him instead of distancing myself from feelings of pain by joking about his death. Whether that means I had a breakthrough or matured is anyone’s guess. If your father is still living don’t forget to call or visit with him with him on father’s day, because you’ll never know when he’ll be gone.