Father’s Day is a happy day for some, and a sad day for others. And then there are those like me who are happy/sad. My dad is gone, but I have a husband who is a wonderful father to my three boys. Now we celebrate the day spoiling him with presents, good food, ice cream, and miniature golf.
My father died when I was twenty. I have spent more years living without him than with him. The hardest part for me now is realizing he never got to know the grown up me. He knew me as a child, his youngest daughter. I was daddy’s little girl, but my heart aches when I remember how mean I was in my later teenage years.
He knew me when I was bratty and terribly moody. I have one vivid memory of a sunday afternoon when he drove me back to nursing school. I don’t know what he said or did, but I clicked my tongue, rolled my eyes, and said something horrible to him. Did he shush me, or lecture me about my behavior? No. He just looked away and watched the numbers change on the elevator.
He died shortly after that. Why is it on Father’s Day I have to remember that stupid day?
If I had a magic bean that could grant me one day with my dad, would he know me when he saw me? Would he recognize my face, my voice? It’s been thirty-one years and I’m not who I once was. I’ve changed in so many ways.
I would know him. His deep brown eyes, his big, toothless smile. He loved popcorn, country music, horseshoes, and staying up late to watch John Wayne and Kung-Fu movies. He was most content reclining in his lawn chair in our backyard, smoking his lucky strikes while listening to the birds songs and the scratchy buzzing of the locusts.
I would know my father. He is etched in my memory, cut into my heart. I’d recognize his voice, his walk, his whistling. He’d smell of old spice and Wisk laundry detergent.
My tall, kind, patient, long-suffering, always there till he wasn’t, dad.
I think he would know me. I imagine him saying,
Sweetie, I saw it all. Your career, your wedding. I was there when your boys were babies – handsome kids. Will reminds me of myself when I was his age. I saw them walk across the stage to get their diplomas. I saw it all. I’ve watched you all these years, and you have made me so proud. I love you.
Of course he would know me – he’s my dad. He would always know me.
I love you too dad. Miss you. XO
Originally published June 16, 2014