My dad died 15 years ago. I was given the gift of standing beside his hospital bed in our den when he breathed out and didn’t breathe in.
His death was not a surprise but it was a shock. We had been prepared for what there is no way to prepare. The gratitude I felt for his being released from the body that had stopped working competed with the pain of the little girl in me that desperately needed her daddy. I was 53 years old.
I am thinking a lot about him today because today is his birthday
Grief is a lonely thing in that nobody really gets what it is you are missing. There are some things that only the person who is now gone would really understand.
I don’t even know what to call what I am feeling today or if I need to give it a name at all. Dad and I didn’t use words very often when we were together so it seems odd to try to describe our relationship with words.
There was the day when the wind and the rain leveled a field of golden oats ready for harvest. I saw dad standing on our back porch watching the storm rob us of essential income. I did the only thing I could do. I walked out on the porch and stood by his side. Neither of us talked. I stood with him until he was ready to come in the house and then we walked in together. I think I was about 10 years old. He was my dad but for that moment we were friends.
In the spring he would plow a field all the way from our County trunk road to the start of our pinewoods. The first furrow had to be straight as an arrow. He would set his eyes on a goal and guide that sputtering John Deere tractor through the unmarked ground with never a crook or a curve. When we drove by on the County road we would both look at the straight furrow and smile. He was proud of it and I was proud of him.
Sometimes Dad made Mom nervous. I tried to assure her that he would handle the situation but she didn’t always share my confidence. One of these times was during hunting season when many hunters used our driveway to get back in the woods to hunt deer. The game warden would usually come and park outside our granary and check to make sure the hunters had bought a tag. What Mom knew as she looked out the window was that the granary door was blocking Dad’s deer for which he didn’t have a tag. Dad just stood there and told jokes to the game warden. When the game warden left Dad would come in and he and I would laugh as Mom scolded and reminded us of the fine we could have gotten but never did. We figured the deer had eaten our corn, for one thing, but also we knew it was important to kill them in the fall because if you didn’t they would die in the winter. (See Blog post “The Power of Love “ from a few days ago for an updated perspective on obeying the law!!)
Last year during an ice storm I was on a road that had a high hill. I was about to turn around when I remembered that Dad would have made it up that hill. I put the car in the lowest gear and crawled up the hill. When I got to the top I smiled. My dad died 15 years ago but maybe he didn’t.
What memories are shaping your life today?