Over the course of the last few months, I have realized that losing someone you love and care deeply about is just the beginning of a very long journey. Dark days, feelings of panic, and a sense of unsettledness give way to hope and life and light. Friends have reminded me along the way that even after years, there is still an emptiness and a longing for the parent or parents they have lost. Dad was my first date, my first dance partner, and my best friend. When I hit my teen years, I slipped more and more away from him and into a realm that belongs to teenagers and telephones and new friends. Our relationship changed. It spiraled out of control at times, and I wondered if he would ever understand me again. His softball-clad little girl had grown up and boys and sandals and hair ribbons had replaced all that had connected us.
I’m blessed to have the memories that I do now of my Dad. He was not perfect but then none of us are. I remember years ago when Dad and I began to laugh with one another again. I hugged him and told him that I loved him and meant it. I would never forget the times growing up when he called to me. “Do you want to go play catch?”
“Sure Dad. Let me get my glove.” Amazingly, before his death when he was in rehab, the therapist gave me a ball and asked, “Do you think he can catch it?” Dad looked up at me and said, “Let’s show her.” And we did for at least 15 minutes.
There are so many memories I have of my Daddy, but one that stands out the most comes from a card that he wrote to me a couple of years ago before his memory began to strip away his ability to communicate with pen and paper. Even then his words had become very simple, and sometimes he could not find the right letters to convey the words he wanted to write. We always made one another cry with the cards we would write. He was such an easy touch. I loved every moment of telling him how much I loved him, and I loved the fact that he would always go straight to tears. One of his final notes to me ended this way: “Angie, God loves you and I do, too! —Daddy.”
I think it is easy to see that he has the last laugh on me. Tears. Lots of tears, Dad! Happy Fathers Day!