My dad has been gone 25 years this December, which is more than half my life. I have often wondered what life is like for those who have a relationship with their father well into adulthood. I imagine that even emotionally detached, heavy-handed fathers develop a grown-up relationship with their kids eventually. At least, that’s what I imagine.
Dad didn’t contribute much in the way of relationship; he was one of those men who believed that if he told you he loved you once, you already knew it, so why repeat it. Born in 1921, living through the Great Depression, he was from an era of children being seen and not heard. He was a man of little patience, but also a man of integrity—true to his word. I knew him to be generous in the way he helped people, honest, and hard-working. His physical body gave out long before his desire to work. Illness wrecked his body and prescription drugs robbed him of sound judgment by the time he died at only 64.
Remembering my dad today, painful and fond memories commingle like a carton of rainbow sherbet—picking through the lesser flavors to enjoy my favorite. I suppose it can be easier to honor the dead than deal with the living; Dad could be hard to deal with. Even still, I wish he could have met my husband and known my children. I don’t romanticize about him doing things he never did, like reading to the kids or playing in the park. I do occasionally think about the stories he would tell that enthralled me as a child, or how he could have shared his love of carpentry with Matt. Maybe that is a surprise waiting for me in Heaven, I will have to wait and see.
On this Father’s Day, if I could, I’d simply hug his neck and tell him I love him.