My First Fatherless Father’s Day
This is my first Father’s Day without my dad. Although I haven’t been in the same place as my dad on Father’s Day for more than 20 years it is different now.
For the last couple of decades our Father’s Day visits were limited to phone calls or Skype chats. Sometimes I remembered to send him a card in time for it to arrive on time.
There will no more cards and no more phone calls.
I recently realized that I have spent the past ten months since his death in a bit of a fog. I have not done a good job of taking care of myself or giving myself time to think and generally process his passing.
Thinking About My Dad
I have also started to shift how I think about my dad.
My dad had some financial and relationship struggles in his life. As I wrote in the month after he died, I looked for the lessons I could learn from his life – his legacy to me. Several of those lessons have led me to do or try to live in opposition to his example or avoid some of the challenges he encountered.
I realized recently that has meant that I have been focusing on the the ways in which I was determined and continue to be determined to not be like him.
The thing is – my dad was a good man. He does not deserve to be remembered in a negative way. I am doing both of us a disservice by thinking about the ways I don’t want to be like him.
In the last few weeks I have started thinking more about the ways I am like him.
He was a frustratingly stubborn man – something that can be said about me. I consider my stubbornness to be a positive attribute. My refusal to admit defeat or listen to those who say it can’t be done has led to most of the achievements in my life about which I am the most proud.
People are good
He got along with people. In spite of two divorces, he remained friends with both women after the romantic relationship fell apart. I am forever grateful that he and my mum had an amicable relationship and never fell into the rancour that has characterized so many divorces. I am sure he had negative things to say about some other people. I can’t think of a time where I ever heard him say anything bad about anyone else. I hope that I can live my life by this example. I think is important to look for the positive in other people (including my dad).
I love Christmas. My dad and his father before him loved Christmas. They were both, as am I, an early riser on Xmas. I am the first up in my house because I am too excited to sleep. I hope this will always be true. Now in addition to lying in bed anticipating the day I will think about my dad and my Poppa and this trait that we all share.
I like to laugh and make my kids laugh. Most of the interactions my dad had with my kids were over Skype due to our geographic distance. In almost every instance those conversations devolved into all of them making silly faces at each other. I hope this is the memory they carry of my dad – the silly man who made faces with them.
My dad was a salesman for most of his life. He sold everything from religion as a youth leader to paints and industrial solvents. I’m not sure how many years he cumulatively spent in a car travelling to see customers and potential customers as a travelling salesman. I have followed in his footsteps in this regard. I am a salesman too, although for the most part what I sell are ideas. For the past eight years that also put me in a car, travelling from community to community in my region selling ideas and helping others to sell themselves. I have also done my share of product selling from textbooks and coffee to now my own wooden products.
My dad loved seafood. When my brother and I were kids and teens Dad would take us on vacations to Myrtle Beach and Florida and we would hit up as many seafood buffets as we could, especially those all you can eat buffets. I feel confident saying that we got our money’s worth. We generally had a stated goal of making the restaurant rue letting us in the door. We don’t eat a lot of seafood in our house because my partner isn’t a big seafood fan, but I will pick the seafood option in a restaurant almost every time and anytime I see alaskan crab legs I will think of my dad and the stacks of them that we demolished in all those seafood buffets.
Remembering My Dad
I am slowly rebuilding my memories and relationship with my dad. I am sorting through my feelings about him and what he meant to me and how he influenced me. Whenever a friend or co-worker experiences the death of someone close to them I usually say to hold on to the good memories and share those stories with others.
So far I haven’t been taking my own advice. I am getting there. People are complex, full of contradictions. We are all just doing the best we can to live our respective lives. I am digging out the good memories and I am rediscovering my dad and learning more about myself in the process.
I miss him.