Father’s Day is such a strange day for me. A day full of hope for the future, contentment for the present, and grief for the past. I don’t think my desire to be fathered will ever fully go away. I both hate that and have come to love it, as it keeps my heart softer and my grief closer to the surface.
I wrote this piece below years ago when my father was dying, I found it today and thought I would share it with you.
“It’s strange to say hello and goodbye to someone who has been such a defining character in my own story, and yet a character I know so little of. My father and I have never actually had much of a relationship. A few phone calls a year were about the extent of it, mostly discussing his latest body ailments or the failures of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team.
Yet now I am finding myself longing for those shallow conversations. Our last conversation a few months ago was like talking to a cardboard box with his caricature drawn on the side. He was on the phone but not in his own body. My father has frontal lobe dementia. Patients struggling with this “undergo dramatic changes in their personality and become socially inappropriate, impulsive or emotionally indifferent, while others lose the ability to use language.” I have lost what little of my father I had left. His one-word emotionless answers were zombie-like, and void of anything I recognized as human. The average patient with this disease only lives 6-8 years since onset, he was diagnosed 8 years ago.
My father may not know who I am when I see him, yet my father has never known who I am.
My father is dying.
I need to say hello, I need to say goodbye.
Yesterday I bought tickets for my family to go down to Florida for a few days to be with him. He has never met my kids, I don’t know exactly why it is so important to me for them to meet. “He won’t remember it anyway”, my brother proclaimed. Yet, I don’t think it’s for his sake but for my own. It’s important for them to meet for me to live out a thank you to my father and to whisper my final goodbye. Some form of ending to this long chapter, a resolution, and completion, a yes, a nod to both life and to death. An acknowledgment of the heartache of my past and a testament to the goodness of my future.
Part of me feels the need to both bless and wail. I need to just say thank you for the life he has given me and weep for his loss in his very presence. I need to grieve him even if he is unable to do so. I need to not only grieve his upcoming death but also his life, what was not and what will never be.”