Dear Dad, redux

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A year ago, I wrote a message about, and to, my father. What I did not know then was that within four months he would be gone.

This will be my first Fathers’ Day without him.

It is an odd feeling, not quite like being adrift, because he made sure his daughters could always keep our bearings, could always find solid ground. Not quite loss, because he will always be part of us, I see him every time I look at my sons, my nieces and nephew, my sisters. I feel his strength, his humor, his commitment throughout my daily life, in every decision that I make.

And I miss him.

I envy those who can give their fathers a hug, a kiss, a card on Fathers’ Day. I know that in many ways I am more fortunate than many in that my father was someone who gave all of himself to his family and keeping his family safe and secure and strong. His lessons will always be with me, as will be his smile, his laugh, his devotion.

I mentioned at his funeral service that he always made me feel that I had a guardian angel. I did. I do.

Though he is not here physically, I will still celebrate him this Fathers’ Day. With joy, and not a few tears. And marvel at my great good fortune of having him for my father.

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Like most everyone else, I will be reflecting this weekend (as I do often) on the impact my father has had on my life.

From him I got my stubborness, determination, obsession with detail and the need to plan. Though at times those traits drive even me nuts, they have also stood me in good stead for a very long time.

My father never tried to be anything he wasn’t. What you saw was who he was. The only time he has ever struggled with himself was during that period when he realized he could no longer manage complex finances, though he couldn’t understand why.

All of his life he has taken care of those around him, until the past few years when we have finally been able to return the favor. He took pride in being able to provide, and provide well, for his family, even in those years when thankless teenagers tried his patience no end. Even when he was disappointed or upset or even mildly disgusted by our choices or behavior, there was never any doubt, nor is there today, of his love for his family.

Perhaps the most important lesson I learned from him was to let my own children know that no matter what, I would support them and love them. I may not have liked all of their choices but they have my unconditional love and loyalty — and, just as my father has, I take great pride and joy in the wonderful people my children have become.

There is no way I can repay everything my father has given me, the foundation he has provided for my life. Except to pay it both forward and behind, to live my life with honor and compassion and loyalty and strength, a strength borne of knowing the difference between right and wrong, of hating evil done but forgiving those who make mistakes, offering a hand up and an open mind. I couldn’t have asked for a better role model.

Dad, thank you.

Dad, I love you.

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