My dad is currently experiencing something I went through ten years ago. He’s dealing with the death of a parent. This brings up many feelings for me, but mostly that I am saddened for my dad because I know what it feels like.
It brings up the finality of death for me. I was surprised that I felt rather choked up when I heard him say it. We were never close, my grandfather and me, but it isn’t because I didn’t want us to be. I made the effort as an adult. Probably to my dad’s insistence goes the credit, but when I went home over the past few years, I went and visited with the man who’s half responsible for my dad’s life. I went and introduced him to two of his great-grandchildren. I went and I hugged him, and enjoyed visiting. It was always small talk, because I didn’t know how much he knew of me and my life, but I yearned for the connection. Since I was a child – that’s one thing that comes to mind now…
I wanted him to want me. More than this, I wanted him to want my dad.
I cannot imagine my life without my father. He was not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. My dad was young and immature and hot-headed, but he was… THERE. He was THERE when I needed him. He was THERE when I messed up, and though I feared his wrath as my father, I knew no matter what I did or what I was going through, he would STILL be THERE for me.
He was there for me when I got divorced from Layla’s father. Though the divorce was mostly my fault because of some irreparable choices I made, he was THERE. He was there when AJ left Jemma, Layla, and me – though he never approved of the marriage from the start and saw the end before it began – he was THERE. And he was there when I married the man I would argue is my favorite. The man that “took in” my children and me, against the better advice that this life would be difficult – my dad was there to give me away, finally… It was the first marriage he was there for, and the first time I knew – beyond any doubt because he told me he was proud, that I was making the right decision.
My dad didn’t have the same father. His dad wasn’t “there”. For that, I have spent my entire life mad. On his behalf. Because a father is crucial.
My dad wasn’t perfect, I’ve mentioned this already, but he was and still is my favorite man on this earth. My husband is a close second, and a first in a lot of ways – obviously, but still… When I think of what it means to stick around and to put in the work, my dad comes to mind – first and always.
The finality of this, for him, must be hard. That’s what I keep thinking about, and I only got the news a few minutes ago. . .
I wish for my dad, then, a peace that comes from believing his father is some place better than here. Where redemption heals a broken and worn-out soul. Where we no longer question what is good and what is right, but where good and right are the just norm. I want this for my dad, the peace… Because the finality is difficult.
He will never again hear his dad’s voice. Never see his face. Never pick up the phone to call him and tell him that his son has once again done something to, hopefully, make his father proud. He’s lost that to this earthly realm, and that makes me sad.
Life is swift. It is swift and it is challenging. But we all have a day. A day wherein we find ourselves breathing our last breath.
I hope when that moment comes for my dad I am by his side. I hate to think of it. Really. It makes me sick inside. Not only because he’s my only parent left, but because I cannot envision a world where he isn’t there to talk to. To make me laugh and share our funny stories. To tell me when I’ve fucked up and to put me right again… I cannot imagine it. And although I should be able to, it doesn’t compute. Because that’s how much I need him. He’s a thousand miles away, but I still need my father. I wonder if he is feeling anything similar now, and if he is, I pray to the God we both believe in that his heart can find peace in this sad time. I pray that he knows, when it is his time, that he won’t leave us wanting more, but leave us knowing how much he loved his children, and how good he was to us.
I told John a story just recently of my dad building sparkler bombs. We did this a lot when we were kids. We’d get packs of sparklers, strap them tightly together with electrical tape, and blow up toilets in our back yard. These moments, undoubtedly, were some of the best of my childhood. Our dad was cool. He was young and “with it”, and he found ways to make our childhood memorable though we didn’t have much money and it was a hectic, tumultuous childhood. At least, at the VERY least, he was THERE. Doing the things that I remember now as some of the best times of my life.
I looked back on that, as I told John, and felt laughter well up from my gut. What kind of father blows up porcelain toilets in a residential neighborhood during the day with a freaking sparkler bomb?! I think, if John were to do that to entertain our children, I’d probably kill him and be really mad for a long time. . .
But that was my childhood. That was my dad.
I would not change a single moment. Not for all the money and glory this world has to offer. Those days were beautifully ours, and they were solely because my dad was there. Thinking constantly of ways to make his children happy.
As I think about my grandpa, I am upset that he didn’t give my dad the same gift. It’s private and I won’t go into more detail, but the point is, as he goes through this painful process of letting his dad go, he will look back on their time together and miss the things that never were. For that, I am angry, and I wish I had time to make my grandpa see that the important things were not his bank account or a golf game, or even the woman he chose to leave his family for – the important things were watching his son play baseball, or helping him through a surgery when he was just a boy. It was the reprimanding and the discipline, the teaching moments and the heart-to-hearts. He sold out and vanished, and left my dad without those crucial memories and now, all these years later, my dad is the one that has to reconcile these truths.
It speaks to character. It speaks to integrity and honesty and gumption. All the traits my dad has, and he got them on his own. Without his dad. For that, my dad is a better man than most, because he found those traits of character on his own, and he did it while being a very young man, raising five children of his own.
I got choked up, yes, but it was more for my dad than the grandfather I barely knew. He missed out on knowing us, and I guess I’ll never know why he chose that life – time and again – because I showed up, I drove to his house, I introduced him to children that bore his blood, but it wasn’t enough.
It just makes me more appreciative and grateful for my dad. For his dedication and loyalty. For his sense of humor that he gave me. For his honor to stick with my mom when she went off the rails… He was there, and he never intended, no matter how difficult life became, to have it any other way. There is no better trait in a man than this. Dedication.
Death is funny. It’s an inescapable truth for every single living person. We shall all meet death and her final hand swiftly grasps us – we have no say in the matter. When she comes knocking, we cannot refuse to answer the door. My grandpa met her today. I shall miss him in the sense that I miss the opportunity to win him over. To make him fall in love with his premature granddaughter and, as it happened, her children – his great-grandchildren. We tried, and at least I can rest with that knowledge. We tried. Why he didn’t – our whole life, and most of my dad’s life, we shall never know. I pray as my dad tries to reconcile this, he finds peace in his heart that HE tried, and what he didn’t get in return is not the measure of his worthiness as a son and a father. His measure, his worth, is that he never gave up trying. I got that from him.
My dad is one of my favorite people on this planet. It’s taken me nearly 32 years to fully appreciate the life he built for his children. To see the sacrifices he made to give us as much of a chance as he knew we could take. He didn’t have an example. He didn’t have someone to call and get help from. . . But he managed to raise five incredibly smart, happy children, and we all – from the deepest part of our heart – can say that he was one of the biggest reasons why we have good lives now.
I wish I could hug my dad right now. Just sit with him and let him talk. Hear all the things he has to say, feel the feelings pouring from his eyes… Just comfort him. The way he comforted us when my mom died. I wish I could tell him how much he truly means to me, and that I thank him for every single time he sacrificed his own dreams to work hard so we could have food on the table. For each moment he was frustrated with raising five kids as a young man, wondering where his life and dreams went, but instead of chase those things, he kept at it so that we had a roof over our heads.
Rest in peace, Grandpa Geddes. May you know now, in your heavenly vision, that your son did well even when you didn’t show him how. Know that HE is the father his children adore, and HE was there… Know that he forgives you for not teaching him these things, he learned them on his own, but he loved you through those mistakes. He has character, integrity, and devotion to his family. In the face of every mistake you made, he turned out better than fine. He turned out amazing. As we say goodbye to you in spirit, we will celebrate the child you left behind. He is my dad. He is your son. He gave us a great life, and he probably worked so hard at this because of the fact that you weren’t there. He was there. For that, I guess I can only be grateful to you… Your mistakes gave me a great father. The best dad. As I remember what I knew of you, and the loss of this to my dad, I will be grateful that he was everything you were not. The best dad a child could ask for.