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Father’s Day Reflection

Dad at work

It’s been twenty years since I’ve seen my Dad, so Father’s Day can be difficult. All those ads for barbecues and razors fill me with sadness because I’m not part of the marketing frenzy this holiday presents. Instead, Father’s Day is simply a time to reflect, a time to remember my Dad and who he was and what he meant to me.

It was cancer, an explanation used too often, but there it is. He died the day before Father’s Day, when the lilacs were in full bloom and the the dichotomy of that has never left me, lilacs being my favorite flower. He’d had cancer and a heart attack before, so it was somewhat of a shock to my naive twenty-two year old self that this happened, that he could actually die.

He was a character, my father.

Dad - surprised

At times he drove me crazy, as parents are likely to do. There were moments when I wished he were different from who he was. Perspective is a funny thing, because looking back, it’s these same differences that made him wonderful.

Ah, there’s the rub, that’s what he would say.

He wasn’t perfect, but as a parent myself, I have a better appreciation for him now, knowing what the constant pressure of raising a family feels like.

And I only have three children. He had nine. It puts his fatherhood into its own category, right alongside the crazy category, but I’m thankful my parents persisted, being the ninth. Sacrifice was not fleeting, it was a way of life when you have nine children. I could not have done it.

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But he was indefatigable. He thrived in the chaos of our family, he was our wise and fearless leader, larger than life and full of stories. When he laughed, he threw his head back and it could be heard for miles around. The man loved to laugh.

Looking back, he seemed to be involved with anything that came his way – the church, the cancer society, the Kinsmen, whatever that is. On top of supporting us, he made time for positions on boards and volunteered heartily – yet frequently when I was walking home in the pouring rain, his car would appear and the door would fling open. He drove around until he found me.

He appeared in unlikely places at unlikelier times, and when no one else was thinking of me, he thought of me.

I once read that when you lose someone you love, it’s like a crater landing in the middle of your life that is never again filled; you simply learn how to navigate around it. And so it is. I miss him, but I’ve learned to live life without him, as you do. The world keeps turning. Last week I was in a used book store in Washington and I took a picture of a set of books he would have appreciated, maybe I would have given them to him for Father’s Day. In that moment, I felt the hole of his absence. Grief does that, creeps up on you, and you feel the loss and the shock, all over again.

He’s gone but not forgotten. I have his blue eyes and skinny ankles. His impatience and stubbornness, his passion for words, his love of sports. I see myself reflected in him, both his good traits and his bad.

He wasn’t perfect, but he was mine.

Happy Father’s Day to all dads, and especially to the fathers who are still with us in spirit, wherever we go.

Dad and I

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  1. June 13, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Beautiful. Love those old photos, in particular the fact that your dad is wearing a suit or tie in all of them ;-O

    • June 13, 2013 at 5:09 pm

      I know – he was old school that way! Thanks Harriet.

  2. June 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to all Dads Deanna xox

    • June 13, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      Thanks Nancy – I wasn’t always the angel I am today :), the man put up with a lot.

  3. Liz Brownlie
    June 13, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    This ranks as one of my top 5 of your blogs. You always seem to capture the exact feelings I have felt. Although it was my Mum that has passed – the crater analogy is perfect. I agree with the previous comments – it is a beautiful tribute to your father. No doubt, he is still proud.

    • June 13, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      Thanks Liz. It’s strange how life just soldiers on despite these personal calamities. And sometimes I fall into the crater all over again.

  4. Joanne Lawlor
    June 13, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Hi Deanna
    Wow, hard to read this at work… great blog that brought lots of tears . Dad would be 87 if he was still alive; however whenever I think about him, he always looks young, like he did in your pictures.

    • June 13, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      Yes, I’m sure he would have been a spry 87 year old! The books I’d seen were volumes of “After Dinner Speeches,” I can see him reading those with his glasses at the end of his nose.

  5. Terri
    June 13, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Beautiful. I have no doubt he loved and respected you as much as you do him.

    • June 13, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      We had lots of fun – and many colourful arguments – together. Thanks T.

  6. Chris
    June 14, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Dee,you broughtt a tear to my eye,well done ,like the Shakespeare reference,he would have liked that.

    • June 14, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks Chris, he did love his Shakespeare.

  7. June 17, 2013 at 10:54 am

    This is such a beautiful tribute to your dad, Deanna. As you may remember, I lost my father when I was 19, so I understand a bit about that kind of loss at that age. My dad, too, loved to laugh!

    Sara and I are trying to get settled in Ecuador. Some our furniture arrived over the weekend. Now we have a place to sit!

    Hugs,
    Kathy

    • June 17, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      Yes, hard to navigate through life without these colourful characters, Father’s Day will always be tough for those who’ve lost their Dads. Anxious to hear about life in Equador – find an internet cafe and get writing!

  1. June 15, 2013 at 4:33 pm
  2. June 28, 2013 at 11:22 pm

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