This Sunday, the 18th of May 2017, will mark my first Father’s Day without being able to speak to my father. I’m still my father’s son, but he’s no longer here. The next twelve months will see a collection of experiences for me that will no longer include him. This is the first one.
In recent years I spoke with him less and less. I think I let the minutiae of everyday life get in the way of the important things. It didn’t happen all at once though, it was very gradual. I see now that one can let almost any eventuality occur if it happens slowly enough. I regret that now.
If you’re lucky, you are born into a family that planned for you, loved you, nurtured you and guided you to adulthood and beyond. Again, if you’re lucky, you will have your parents with you on your journey for most of the way. That’s me. I was that lucky. Looking back now I realize I always assumed that when the day finally arrived for me to say goodbye to one of my parents, I would be mature enough or grownup enough and as such, it would be less painful.
The truth is though, I’m just mature enough and grownup enough not to show how painful it is. Nothing more.
My father was an introverted, playful and generous man. In these last few years, he dealt with illness compounding on illness in an uncomplaining, brave and steady way. He loved his family and always had a special place in his heart for his dogs who, as far back as I can remember, were treated as full siblings to my sister and I.
It wasn’t all perfect though, no family is. There were times that I clashed with my father. There were times when he had to be tough on me, to try teach me a life lesson, to break patterns of destructive or antisocial behavior that I was displaying. But it was done to try make me a person that could prosper in this world. There were times as a teenager that I would be brooding in my room, angry at everyone and everything, where I blamed and berated, said harsh things and felt misunderstood.
I wish I could go back and clamp my grownup hands over my adolescent mouth and whisper into my deaf ears…’be quiet now, say no more.’
That’s the life lesson though, isn’t it? Most of us are given a full measure of life and how we use it is largely up to us. The trick I think is to try to limit those moments that you may later regret. To check yourself.
This Father’s Day, my boys will no doubt burst into my room with open arm hugs and hand-made cards and will plant kisses on my cheeks. They will be loud and playful and carefree little creatures and will delight in the novelty of the day.
That will make it a little easier for me to resist the urge to call my Dad. A little easier deal with the absolute finality of the fact that I can’t speak to him anymore.