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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Dandelions for Dad - Part III

Part II can be found here. Names have been changed. This is the last chapter, all written in January, 1995 with the exception of the end. The "ending" was written a few years after his death, after I'd graduated college and had gotten my first career. I also added a small adjustment today. Because I didn't have a relationship with God at the time, I did not speak of Him, although my writings about my Father since then have been filled with the grace of Faith God has given me.

I kept glancing at the coffin containing my father. He looked so peaceful, but so bloated. He had gained a lot of weight, but the jaundice didn't show. I was glad the funeral home had done such a good job. We had chosen to keep the coffin open for that very reason and also to avoid questions a closed casked would prompt.


One of the mourners told me about Michelle. She was a little 5-year-old girl who lived next door to Dad. He learned one day that her own father had abandoned her and her mother, so every Monday, he went over to give Michelle some sort of gift, be it gum, a Disney movie, or simply a piece of candy. This went on for three years. Dad died on a Tuesday. On Monday, Michelle had noticed his absence. The week prior, Jacob had brought the last gift.

Michelle, in return for Dad's kindness, gave "Mr. Josh" a single pink rose to place beside the casket.

At first, when I gleaned this information, I felt guilty. I thought that he had felt abandoned by me, his own daughter, and had "adopted" Michelle to take my place. I later came to my senses, realizing my selfishness. I understood that the situation was simply an example of the kind of person my father had been - right up until the day he died. Dad always considered others, was sentimental, and always tried in little ways to make things better for people around him.


After the service, the family again had privacy. I stood in front of the coffin, staring once again at Dad, knowing that this was it, the final goodbye. I would never see him again. On Monday as I sat in class, Dad would either be stored or buried, never to see the sky again. I cried as if I would never stop, and honestly, I felt that I never could. Jacob stood beside me, his arm around my shoulders, trying to comfort me. But all the self-control in the world would not put a stop to this. Finally he ordered me to look at him.

Tearing my eyes away from Dad, I looked at Jacob as he told me, "Say goodbye, turn around, walk away, and don't look back."

I knew he was right and this was it. I looked at Dad once more, reached out to take hold of his arm and give it a squeeze, let go, turned around, and walked away. I never looked back.

Jacob and I hugged each other and cried together. I hitched in a breath and whispered what had been plaguing my very soul ever since I heard the news.

"He never knew how much I loved and appreciated him..."

"Yes, he did.." Jacob's words were proper, but his voice betrayed a different truth.

"No, he didn't. I never told him..."

Then Jacob said the one thing that succeeded in giving me some perspective. "Life is always unfinished."


I often think of my Dad, and usually not a day goes by that I don't remember him. I try not to feel the guilt that sneaks up on me when I least expect it. I try not to remember all the weekends I could have spent time with him - but didn't. The truth was that I couldn't face the problem because it made me feel helpless and I didn't know how to deal with that. So I ran away.

Dad wouldn't help himself, so we couldn't help him, either. So we forgot him.

Dad was the only person who had ever supported my dreams wholeheartedly, unquestioningly, and unconditionally. He supported my career choices from the beginning. He believed Jacob and I could do anything, and actually told us so. He gave me incentive in the first place and related over and over how much he bragged to his friends about our accomplishments.

And I never appreciated it.

Dad was not there when I graduated from Law Enforcement skills in the summer of 1995, nor was he there when I graduated with my 1st college degree or my subsequent Master's (2010 update).  He wasn't there to congratulate me and help me celebrate when I got my first professional job. If I ever get married, he won't be there to escort me to the altar. If I ever have children, he will not be there to hold them. If I enter religious life, he won't be there to witness my vows and meet his new "family". I can never call him on the phone or go visit him at home. He will never again laugh with me at the stupid little tricks life plays on us. Dad is gone and he has left a huge, never-ending void in my life that can never be repaired.

If there is one thing I hope to pass on that I learned from my father, it is this: How to see and appreciate the good in life, no matter how little sun we see or how dark it becomes. He always put the happiness of others before his own, and I can only hope that one day I'll have the fortitude to do the same.

In memory of my Father
For all the things left unsaid.

Rest in Peace. I love you, Dad.


MJ said...

The whole series is beautiful. God bless you and your dad. May he rest in the peace and love of God.

MemoriaDei said...

Oh dear. If I had the energy, emotionally, I would write about my mom who passed a year ago. But, you have said it for me. My mom was always there if I needed her but...only to listen. God bless you and your dad. But ! We will see them again. And, they are great intercessors!

Rachel said...

Thank you. This was good to read, and think of my own parents who are still with me but not getting any younger.

Georgelovinglife said...

Julie, I just got finished reading this. Thank you for sharing it and giving me the link to it. It was very moving. I didn't know you had been through so much. May God grant you peace and bring healing in His wings.

Adoro said...

Thank you, George. This is only half of it...many other stories here as, well, Mom also had her problems and she was custodial.

But God is good and provides help and friendship and in the years since I graduated from high school, others have come to let me know what others did for my brother and I without our knowledge. Had it not been for them I shudder to think what would have become of us.

I probably wouldn't have been alive to be present at my Dad's funeral.

Always know that God is very, very good.