“That’s my father.” … Seemingly an innocent and offhand remark made by the youngest of his three children, those three little words meant much more to our dad. I know it made him feel proud and happy to be that father, that figure of authority and loving protector of his family.
It was a responsibility he took seriously, a role that only he could execute with his unique brand of friendship, understanding and humour…”
When we were little children, my dad worked as a salesman. Sometimes he had to leave his young family to go on short business trips. On several occasions and if we were on summer vacation, he would take us along, and he would make a working holiday out of it. We loved to stay in whatever motel or hotel he booked for us. It was on one of these little motel stays that I saw my first TV program in colour (I’m telling my age here, for sure). And of course we enjoyed the novelty of eating in different restaurants each night.
Most of the time though, Dad’s job only required him to be away from home from nine to five, Monday through Friday. One particular day, as he was getting home just before supper, he got out of his car and noticed my little sister playing outside with her friend. He heard her as she turned to her playmate and said in a proud but quiet tone, “That’s my father.”
That little memory always made my father smile when he shared it with someone. Seemingly an innocent and offhand remark made by the youngest of his three children, those three little words meant much more to him. I know it made him feel proud and happy to be that father, that figure of authority and loving protector of his family. It was a responsibility he took seriously, a role that only he could execute with his unique brand of friendship, understanding and humour.
We had our dad with us through all the joy and the turmoil of growing up, and for many years after. He stood by me twice as I married, giving me away to another man who professed his love. But when we lost him almost ten years ago to the devastating illness known as ALS, none of us were ready to say goodbye.
Today is his birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad. He would have been seventy-nine. It was my wish to let everyone who reads this blog today to know a little bit about him. He was a man I was proud of, and still am. Why?
On that dark, torturous day when your heart stopped beating, I could hardly breathe. I couldn’t feel. How could I myself bear to live, with this black chasm of grief where my soul used to be? You had always been my solid rock, my fortitude, and more times than it should have been, my safe harbour. And without a doubt, you were my biggest fan. You were the one who taught me that it was not only okay to be different, but it was desirable. You understood me when others couldn’t. How would I survive now? How could any of us?
Somehow, though, as each day was born, we went on. I thought I was learning to live without you. The days became weeks, then months, that became swallowed up by year after passing year. Life’s problems and challenges had to be dealt with. Its promise and joys waited to be fulfilled. Often I would ask, what would you do, Dad? How would you handle this? How can I face this, or celebrate that, so you would be proud of me?
And now, even after all this time, in the midst of sleep, deep inside a dream, I feel the grace of your presence, so familiar; and in the middle of an adventure when the adrenaline is racing through my being, I see your eyes mirroring my exhilaration. I even hear you joke and laugh when I take myself too seriously. Again and again you resurface, and we are face to face, sharing the moment. I feel the longed for warmth of your smile.
Love truly is stronger than Death. How do I know this? Because, Dad, you have been at the core of everything that ever mattered to me. You never really left me after all.