I decided to dedicate this post to my father. I never really talk about my father because some of the memories surrounding him are hurtful. My father died of a heart attack when I was 18 years old. To say I miss him is an understatement, unfortunately, I have spent most of my life missing him. Today I was at a memorial service for a young girl who passed away this past weekend. As I watched her parents I wondered to myself “how do you say goodbye to your child?” As happens quite often in times of death, we reminisce about our own lives or people we have lost. My father crossed my mind today.
My parents were divorced when I was eight years old and I can still remember the day he walked out the door, I was devastated. I absolutely adored my father and I couldn’t understand why he was leaving. As I grew up I came to understand that my father had committed a cardinal sin, he had an affair with another woman. My mother found out about this affair and my father broke up with the other woman and was determined to make it right with his family. He couldn’t do it; he once told me that he loved this other woman so much and he couldn’t pretend at home anymore. He started to see the other woman again and my mother gave him a choice – “me, the children or the door,” he chose the door. My adoration for my father was replaced with utter confusion. I still adored him and loved him very much, but everyone around me was furious with my father and it seemed like not one person liked him. To voice my love for him felt wrong to me because it meant hurting my mother, so I remained silent. Finally after much confusion my father was granted visiting rights He could come and pick up my younger brother and I every Saturday from 8:00 am and we had to be home by 8:00 pm . Not 8:10 pm, 8:30 pm or Sunday, every Saturday from 8 – 8 and there were no exceptions. Looking back I know this was not enough time and I felt that way as a child. There were two older siblings from the marriage and they could not be forced to visit him.
As I grew up life moved on and my mother, stepfather, younger brother and myself moved across the country. My brother and I flew east to see Dad once a year for two weeks. Not a lot of time when you think about it, but we always had a good visit. As we neared toward the end of our visits, a great sadness always came over my father. As we drove to the airport he would be very quiet in the car. We would get to the checkout and gate for us to leave and it was here that I realized how much my father loved us. When I hugged him to say goodbye it seemed like he held onto me forever and he would sob into my shoulder. Then through his tears he would say “I love you more than you will ever know.” I can remember thinking everyone is looking at us because this grown man is just sobbing his heart out – he didn’t care he wanted us to know how much he loved us. This is why my father came to mind today – he couldn’t bear to say goodbye to his children. Every time we left that airport to fly home for another year, a part of him died.
My father wanted to be happy but couldn’t because he was torn about his children. Right or wrong he was a father, a father who loved his children more than they knew. Now as I look at my own children I can only imagine his pain driving home from that airport and knowing he wouldn’t see his flesh and blood for another year and this daughter loves her father more than he ever knew!
Mom and dad before any of us!
I’m the little one holding my mother’s hand and staring at my Father.
First picture – my older brother and sister with my dad at Christmas – a year before I was born!