Sunday, June 20, 2010

Remembering Dad...

I'm missing my Dad today. Today, Father's Day of all might seem like an odd comment but my Dad wasn't the best person in the world. In fact we spent the better part of my adult life estranged from one another until the last two years of his life when we had reconciled. It's a bittersweet day for sure, not only for me missing my dad, but for our family also missing Calvin. Today I choose to remember some of the sweeter moments in my life with both my father and my son and to picture them together, celebrating fatherhood in Heaven.

I still remember the all consuming love I had for my dad as a child. As a little girl who only got to see her dad on weekends, my time with my father was precious and much looked forward to. I still remember Saturday mornings spent anxiously waiting by the window for my dad's black sedan to pull up, excited to find out what we would be doing for our day together. More often than not, we spent the day with my father's Dad, my grandpa, in Ridgetown On, where he had retired from the funeral business. My grandpa was a good man, a hardworking man respected very much in his hometown and his house was a safe haven for my dad to bring me on his visitations. Many days were spent outside my grandfather's house playing on the swingset, chasing butterflies and catching bugs and were usually finished off with a pizza and pop before the trip home. As a child, I understood that my father had a drinking problem but it never bothered me. My dad was extremely kind and loving and throughout my childhood, I remember him spanking me only once for misbehaving. He often told me that he didn't want to wreck his one day with me by having to dicipline me and thus I got away with much more than I ever should have. I knew I had my father wrapped around my finger, and remember with fondness how he used to ask me "Who'd ya get your brown eyes from Margie???" to which I always replied "You Daddy". It used to make him smile in delight that I looked so much like him with my big brown eyes. I adored him. I truly did and wished with all my heart that he and my mother would reconcile some day and that we would live together as a family happily ever after. It never happened suffice to say and in my teenage years my father's alcohol addiction brought about abuse and mental health issues that jaded my feelings towards the smart man who had given me life. It saddens me to think of some of our past exchanges and the hurt feelings that came round after but I also feel a sense of peace that my father and I had mended the proverbial fence before he passed away in 2002.

I remember so well one of the last conversations I had with my father over the phone. He was living back in Ontario and I was newly married and about to be separated from my first husband. Dad had called to tell me his number would be out of service, that I wouldn't be able to reach him there for awhile. He was deliberately vague with me about what was happening so I didn't press him for details. He gave me a new number and extension to call him at and amused, I imagined he was going to jail for awhile, that something he had done had landed him in hot water yet again. We talked once or twice after that and then we lost touch. The number and extension he had given me were no longer working and I assumed he would be in touch when the time was right for him. At the beginning of February 2002, I received a phonecall from a woman who didn't identify herself and who's accent was very thickly Asian. I could barely understand what she was calling to tell me about, but one thing she said stands out. She told me my dad was very sick. Not understanding her and not knowing what was going on, I simply thanked her for telling me and hung up the phone. He died later that month from lung cancer. When the funeral director who had apprenticed under my grandfather called to notify me of my father's death, he told me that my dad wanted to spare me the agony of knowing he was so ill and so far away. He chose to keep his illness to himself and because of that, died alone. My heart broke. It broke for my dad, it broke for me, it broke because his life had ended so sadly. When I flew out that July to bury his ashes, I was the only attendee at the funeral. It was a huge statement to me about the life he had lived, the people he had mistreated over the years and it brought me back to the days where he was a kind and doting father and I wept. So many things can go wrong in life, just as I imagined I would never see the day where I lost either of my parents, I also never imagined that in later years I would lose my only son.

When my children were born, part of the agony in my heart was the fact that with my mother in the terminal stages of MS and my father in Heaven, that my children would never know their grandparents. When Calvin died, I couldn't imagine who would be taking care of him in Heaven because I remembered the Father who had let me down, who had broken my trust. I forgot about the loving Dad who would sit with his child on his lap for hours telling stories, the dad who smelled of cigarettes and beer and some wonderful aftershave. Today when I think of Calvin, I imagine him with that Dad, the Dad who loved his child more than anything in the world and it warms my heart. I know God is keeping them both safe in His embrace and it brings me a measure of comfort. For those missing their Dads today and their children too...warm hugs, a peaceful heart and happy memories be with you.