My Dad

I'm still reeling from losing my dad.

I didn't expect to quite so much. I was not a "daddy's girl." I have friends who have recently lost their fathers, women who were incredibly close to them, and my heart breaks in a thousand pieces for them.

My parents divorced when I was two. I saw my dad every Saturday, he always had Christmas Day because my family celebrated Christmas Eve, and went on trips with him (when he would go to conferences or the like) once or twice a year. Very occasionally I would stay over at his place.  That's not very much compared to divorced parents today, but actually pretty good for the 1970s. We still have a platform rocker around here somewhere that I can't get rid of because my mom told me that when I came home Saturday afternoons she would have to rock me for hours.

My dad was fiercely, stubbornly independent. He was so guarded, even with me. This has been made even more clear to me since he became ill and I stepped in to deal with some of the issues. He was very happy on his own, being responsible to only himself and living the way he wanted to. When he died, early in the morning on Wednesday, I initially felt terrible that I had not been there — until I realized that he would never in a million years have wanted me there. He passed on exactly his own terms.

My dad never really understood what I did, or why I did it. I was not born from an artistic family at all, and so when I went into theatre is was a mystery to both my parents, but I think especially my dad. I think later, when he volunteered for the Bakken, he began to understand it more. What he did value was my intellectualism. Education was the most important thing to him  — he was the first one in his family to go to college — and his greatest approval was reserved for times I did well in high school and college.

The people who knew him through his teaching and volunteerism were so touched by him. I think it's in this area that he really shone, and I think in these times he could be a purer, more caring person than he could be otherwise. I saw this sometimes, from the edges, like when he first brought Patrick's kids through the Bakken. When Patrick took him to radiology, there was a young woman there that he had taught who was so happy to see him and talked about how much he had changed her life, from a pregnant teen to a successful woman.

That said, a lot of the pride that I never saw was hidden, just the way he wanted to it. His computer has links to my blog, my Amazon wish lists, and all my emails are saved. There are pictures of me (and us) all over his house, and letters from over the years scattered around.

On Tuesday afternoon, the last time I saw him, Beatrix and I stopped by on the way to a girl scout meeting, His face lit up when he saw her. He loved her so much. He was proud of everything she did (though again, did not attend it much.) He delighted in coming up with special gifts for her, in having her read to him, in getting together with us so he could see her. I think with Beatrix, he could be the caring person he wanted to be, maybe because there were fewer expectations. He was an excellent grandfather, and for that I loved him perhaps more than I could have as a father.

Which is to say, I miss my dad. A lot more than I thought I would.

Comments

Deborah said…
Thank you for this beautiful tribute. I can identify so strongly with everything in it. It took losing my father to realize what I had lost. And I too miss my dad more than I ever imagined I would. Peace and comfort to you and your family.
Laura said…
I'm very sorry for your family's loss.

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