It’s hard to think about Father’s day, let alone write about it without getting choked up. Recently at a play date, the subject came up about what we were doing to celebrate Father’s day for our husbands and for our own fathers. As each woman shared about her plans for her own father, I could feel my eyes fight the sting of tears and my body stiffen as I tried to fight the urge to totally fall apart.
This will mark the second year that we celebrate this day without my father. I don’t know that I will ever get used to it, I think I will just learn to live with it. My father was not a perfect man. He was not always patient, or kind. He was not the sort of man you could easily buy a Hallmark card for, since he just wasn’t the “you’ve always been there, you’re my best friend” kind of a man. There are a lot of things he wasn’t, but let me tell about the many things he was.
The earliest memory that I have of my father was when I was about 1 1/2-2 years old. I was in a crib in a hospital, crying and sick and scared. I remember him taking me out of the crib and telling me that everything was going to be ok and getting me out of the hospital. He was a rescuer. He was a ‘to hell with what everyone thinks, I am going to make things right’ man.
Our first married Christmas, Ben and I couldn’t afford to fly home to Halifax. We couldn’t even really afford a turkey, or gifts for one another. Dad called two weeks before Christmas and told us that he had sold the beloved white Honda (the thing was nearly 15 years old) and had gotten $200 for it. He then told us that he was giving us the money he had made from the Honda. Dad was a provider. He wasn’t happy enjoying what he had until he knew that everyone else was taken care of.
My dad was a smoker. Had been since he was about 13. He tried to quit many, many times as i’m sure my mother can attest to. The last he quit smoking, he told me that it was because “no grandchild of mine is ever going to know me as a smoker” He hadn’t smoked in about a week when he went to the hospital for the last time. He couldn’t get enough oxygen. They had to intubate him and when we arrived, we weren’t sure if we would ever get to talk to him again without the tube. Then, my Heavenly Father stepped in. Miraculously, they were able to take the tube out for nearly 24 hours. We had him back for a short time and that time was oh so sweet. He got to meet his first grand child, tell us all that he loved us and how he was trying his best to keep going. My dad was a fighter. I have never known anyone in all of my life that has had nearly the health complications that my dad had. He was 48 when he died and left my mother widowed at 43. They started dating when my mom was 15.
My relationship with my dad was not easy. There were many arguments, frustrations, tears, unforgiveness. But in those last few months of his life when he was at home sick, we spoke on the phone nearly everyday. I was at home with a newborn and just as lonely as he was. There was beautiful beautiful healing in our relationship in those last months. There were tears (his and mine), apologies, forgiveness and encouragement. He so quickly became the dad and the man I had always hoped he would become. Even though he didn’t always understand me or agree with me, he loved me. And that’s what really matters. He was a loving man.
This picture of us dancing at my wedding is the one and only time I ever danced with my father. I also have it on video and it is one of the most special things that I have to remember him. He was a good man, husband, father and friend to many.
For all of you celebrating this day without your father, my heart hurts with yours today. Let’s remember the good and the bad, because that’s what makes up a person. It’s ok that my dad wasn’t perfect, it’s given me the freedom not to be either. I’m sure there will be tears today, but there will also be joy in looking at old pictures, home videos, and seeing my husband be a wonderful father to our girls. For that I am truly grateful.