Belated Father’s Day Musings

Father’s Day has come and gone.  I took my husband out to dinner and bought the proverbial “You’re the best father in the world” card and cards from each of our two cats.

But my husband stepped into the father role when my son was eight.  The going was rough, but somehow we managed to weather and survive the continuous barrage of family relationship storms.

My son’s father remains very much in the picture.  He lives close by and, while he has a new wife (his third) and a young son thirty years younger than ours, he takes an active role.

Still, on Father’s Day, my son’s step dad (my husband) stands in the wings.  While my son tries his best to honor both dads and to spend time with both on Father’s Day, it’s not always possible.

Like this year.  There was a father/son golf tournament that teed off at 8:30 a.m. and lasted for hours.  It was over 90 degrees and, after a discouraging game, my son went home to recover.  He couldn’t muster the energy to then trudge out our way for a second Father’s Day commemoration.

Who could blame him?

Thankfully, his step dad took this in stride.  The three of us will celebrate later this week.

But these preordained days that “force” us to honor a parent seem artificial and, as in our case, complicated.  Why can’t we celebrate our parents on our own schedule, at our own pace?

Last year, I blogged “Apologies to My Dad on Father’s Day.”  Sadly, he passed away almost eight years ago, and my apologies were after the fact.  It felt good for me to get some stuff off my chest, but my dad probably didn’t get the memo.

Why hadn’t I told him when he was still around that I was sorry for having teased him when, at age 80+, he couldn’t get up from the exercise mat on the floor?  (I get it now: I’m having trouble pushing myself up from any lower than, say, two feet.)

Why was I so selfish in urging him not to die on my birthday?  He was in a coma of sorts and, hopefully, didn’t get that memo, either.  Still, he didn’t need any pressure from me as he struggled to move from this earth plane to whatever is next.  (He did die on his own terms the day after my birthday and waited until all of us, including the hospice nurse, were out of the room.)

My sister called me last Sunday.  We reminisced about our “daddy-o” and so many events both good and not so good that continue to give us pause, joy, and strength.  I treasure my sister connection and the special ways in which she and I can talk about things that no one else in the world can understand.

For that, dad, I am eternally grateful.

 

 

 

 

To Dad with Apologies on Father’s Day

 

 

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Dear Dad,

I wish you were here so I could make these apologies in person.  But as you know, you’ve been dead for just about 8 years now.  Remember: You died one day after my birthday.

And that brings me to my first apology: I’m sorry that I put pressure on you not to die on my birthday.  That would have ruined so many celebrations. Sure, I guess there would have been some kind of symmetry in your death and my birth on the same day.  But it wasn’t something I wanted.  I’m pretty sure you didn’t, either.

So, I stood by your bed in the middle of the night.  You were in a coma or, at least, you weren’t eating, talking or moving.  I was wearing mom’s silk green nightgown covered with some kind of bird pattern.  She loved birds.  And I came close to  you lying in the same bed where mom had died just three+ weeks earlier, gently pushed the nightgown toward you and said something like, “Smell this, daddy-oh.  I know you want to be with her.  So, don’t hang on any longer.  It’s time to go.”

What a bunch of crap!  You should have been allowed to die whenever the hell you wanted.  But you surprised us all and did just that.  When the hospice caretakers, Liz, John, and I were all out of the room, you went ahead and died.  A day after my birthday.

Apology #2

You were somewhere in your mid-80s and asked me to accompany you to the “gym” in your building.  You valued my fitness regimens and thought I might give you a few pointers.

I first suggested some stretches.  You made your way down to the floor matt without much difficulty and followed my instructions as I led you through a series of leg, back, arm and neck exercises.

Once warmed up, you asked if we could do the “circuit.”  Not a problem.

But you couldn’t get up from the floor.  And I couldn’t believe that you couldn’t.  “Dad,” I said impatiently.  “Just get up.” After several futile attempts, I had him roll over on his side, brace one hand on the floor and push himself up to a sitting position.  From there, I told him to get to his knees with both hands on the floor.  It took all my strength to support his back and pull him until he was upright.

What goes around comes around.  Isn’t that what they say?  Well, I got my comeuppance.  I’ve started having a hard time getting up from the floor.  My knees just aren’t what they used to me.

And, dad, every time without fail, I think of you.  I am so sorry.

Apology #3

Okay, you weren’t the nicest before and after mom died.  You turned bitter, angry, a man I didn’t recognize.  You didn’t want to give mom a funeral.  You said you wouldn’t be able to handle her casket being lowered into the ground.

I thought you were selfish.  Mom wanted as many friends and relatives to send her off in style.

“Dad,” I said.  “You can just walk away.”

“Let’s just ask people to give money to their favorite charity in her name,” you said.

At that moment, I hated you.

But I get it now.  You were scared.  You couldn’t stomach living alone.  In your mind, your life had ended, too.  It was just a matter of getting you body in sync with your mind.

The last time we ever talked, you asked if I wanted mom’s car.  I see it now as a kind, loving gesture.  Then, I saw your offer as some kind of peace offering that I couldn’t accept.  I already had a perfectly fine car.  I didn’t need another one.  And I didn’t need a reminder that mom was dead.

But that was a long time ago.