Someday I MUST make that sad pilgrimage to the UP and lay flowers at the graves of my Dad and Grandparents.
We are only dust, and if those who survive us don't remember us, even our dust is worthless to the world.
My Dad wasn't perfect...but he wasn't worthless. He's still not worthless. And it's the small things that I remember about him and his life that really mean the most to me.
I've written before, many times, that I was a "Daddy's Girl", like so many other little girls. I always wanted to be with him, and he was so easy to be with! He indulged my every little concern, I was the apple of his eye and he was the apple of mine. I even remember a discussion with Mom; I was going to grow up and marry Daddy. I saw a conflict even then, because of course Mommy was married to Daddy, but I think it was the most sincere expression of love I could muster. (Yes, I know about the Electra Complex. Don't bother my reverie with psychobabble facts.)
Well, Mommy talked me out of marrying Daddy very skillfully and suggested I continue to love him but marry someone else. I agreed. You see, I was a very agreeable little girl. And all I wanted was that stability and love that only a father can provide.
I was always so proud of my Dad. While he had terrible taste in clothing (the man could not seem to leave the 60's and 70's behind) he was maybe one of the most outgoing people I've ever met. He had a kind word for everyone, an easy sense of humor, and a compassionate demeanor. He was agreeable almost to a fault, but this trait made him very approachable to one and all. Whenever I brought friends over, he was thrilled to see them, he smiled and made them feel welcome, even if he was in the middle of an arduous task. Conversely, when I went to my friend's homes, often their fathers were not around, or aloof, or even outright rude. I heard terrible language at one friend's home, language that made me shudder and seek to take cover, while my friend didn't even flinch. Whenever we entered her home, she peeked into the livingroom first to make sure her dad wasn't there. If he was, we whispered and tiptoed to her room or back outside in order not to disturb him.
No one ever had that sense of fear around my Dad.
He really was a wonderful human being, for all his shortfalls. I've written of the bad things, but let me share with you even a short list of the moments forever caught in the shutterclick of my memory:
* Summer afternoons in the backyard with the sound of boats on the river echoing between the banks. Evenings on the patio outside the livingroom bay windows, weeds growing from between the irregular paving stones while the smell of barbecued chicken filled the air. I hovered, waiting to suck on the bristles of the basting brush when the grilling was done.
I write about my Dad every now and then, and I do miss him. I wish I could call him and share my life with him. I long to hear his advice and seek his comforting and loving authority. I do envy my friends who still have their parents, but I don't begrudge them this wonderful grace. I only hope they are taking note of the small moments and seeing what's important for one day they, too, will be orphans.
A few years ago, when I was really struggling in my faith, in Confession a priest told me, "God is your Father...and Mary is your Mother. Go to them."
And I have. And they have helped me understand my earthly parents and love them that much more, especially my Dad. I've learned to see his flaws, but also his good points, in balance. And I hope and pray that I can be just like him in all the ways that matter.
I love you, Dad. I miss you. Happy Father's Day.