Thursday, April 7, 2016

In Memory Of Father's Day 2013

I wrote this on Father's Day 2013, almost two months after my dad passed away. It took that long before I was able to get this much down, but I think what I expressed here actually did manage to say what I needed to say. Time passes and yet, in a way, it doesn't. We do what we have to do, and we hope that it's enough. Time passes, but grief does not. We learn to live with it, we hope. We learn to accept the person we have become as a result. I present this today because it is as fresh today as it was three years ago, and because I hope it can help someone else in need. Your grief is real and honorable, and there is nothing wrong with it. You do not hurt because you are weak. You hurt and keep going because you are so very strong. Remember that, and remember the strength you have in the people around you as well.

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When I was a kid, I got stuck in a tree. I'm not exactly afraid of heights, but it's close enough to that as to make no difference to this story. I went up, panicked, and couldn't get back down. My dad could have bawled me out for doing something so stupid. It's not like I didn't know by then that I had these panic issues. He could have given me the old, “You got up there; figure out how to get down” routine. He could have done any number of things. What he did, though, was to drive his truck up under the tree and rescue me like I was a kitten.

In my early twenties, I got stuck on a back country highway, somewhere between Austin and Houston. It was the middle of the night and I was a long way from home with a blown tire and no money. I had no spare tire either, because I had neglected to put it back in the car after a recent move. My dad borrowed a spare tire from my brother and brought it to me. He had to be at work at 5:00 the next morning, and didn't get home from rescuing me until sometime around three.

My dad spent twenty years as a fire fighter for a small town volunteer Fire Department. He had a full time job and a family to raise, but when the siren sounded he was out the door, helping to make our a community a little safer with each call. He had a newspaper clipping pinned to his desk at home, about a house fire that almost got him. I doubt that was the only close call he ever had, but he never talked much about those, and they never stopped him from doing the job he had chosen.

We lost my dad on April 26, 2013. After a difficult medical fight, he succumbed to a heart attack. He was two weeks away from turning sixty. Despite being a writer by temperament, this is the first time I've been able to put down more than two or three sentences about my dad since his passing. I'm sorry, Dad. I've wanted to write it. You deserved it. I just couldn't do it. Now we're looking at Father's Day, and I can't tell you how much I love you, how much I miss you. I'm doing my best to get the point across, but some things just can't be covered by words.

My dad was my hero. I don't know if I ever told him that, but I wouldn't be who I am today without him. His first priority was always his family, no matter what. He did what was necessary to take care of his family without question, without doubt, and without hesitation. He instilled in me certain values, without once ever lecturing about those values. He lived them, and I learned from how he lived. This weekend is all about Dad, but don't let that be an excuse to forget about him the rest of the year. If your dad is your hero, and anyone worthy of the name “Dad” should be, make sure he knows.

Tell him. Show him. Live it. It's a hard job, with long hours and no pay but, as a dad now myself, it's the best job in the world. Frustrating but great. Make sure your dad knows how much he means to you.

I love you Dad. I wish with all my heart that I could tell you that face to face, but I'll tell the world and I think, if they help spread the word, that you'll hear it. You were always watching out for me before. I bet that hasn't changed.

Happy Father's Day. I love you.

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