Father’s Day

It is almost 25 years since my dad died. Late on a Sunday evening. Father’s Day weekend has never been the same since – not just for his absence but for the anniversary it tugs cruelly, commercially (all those cards), to the fore.

I was 19. He wasn’t even 50. Mum was 44.

The age I am now.

It’s true, despite my derision then – my disbelief – of what sounded like outlandish, platitudinous, insensitive cliché: Life really does go on. It goes on and it overtakes you. You don’t think it will at the time; at the time you think life is going to stop, stand still.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone

And it does. For a bit. Just for you, time is briefly arrested so that you don’t notice its passage as you scramble amongst the fallout garnering the pieces of your little world, blown to bits. For days or weeks or months the Earth rests unmoving on its axis. As if a child who’s been madly spinning the inflated globe in the corner of a classroom halts it with the tip of a finger, and dents Japan. Or Tuvalu. Or an African Outpost.

You cannot conceive of a future. Of tomorrow. You can’t even think about what to eat for lunch.

But it’s only your world that’s stopped spinning, everybody else’s is still busily rotating and evolving, and you can’t stay where you are forever. In limbo. Hobbled by the pain. Stop the World I want to Get Off. You can’t: you have to gather your wits, get some sleep, pick up the reins and get going again. Nobody’s going to wait for you.

Time waits for no man.

And it’s hard not to feel disloyal then: when you do begin to get on with the business of living: it’s hard not to feel as if you’re leaving the Dead behind.

Except that you aren’t.

Because you’re struck, twenty five years after the fact, that they’ve been gone for longer than you knew them and yet there’s still this hole. Closure is but a Band Aid; the sadness keeps bubbling over the top, it spills impolitely around the edges: anniversaries, photographs, the sound of a voice, the fleeting shadow of your dad’s smile across your son’s face. Father’s Day.

I posted a card to him in the days before he died. When I got home – after the news, after too many sleepless miles, half way around the world – when I got home, the first thing I did was rifle through the mail on his desk. Some was opened. Some wasn’t.

My card was.

My dad’s not here to send cards to anymore.

But my children’s dad is.

And that’s a good thing; that’s cause for celebration.

Because life goes on.

15 Responses to “Father’s Day”

  1. Lyn Says:

    Lovely post … I have experienced the exact emotions since losing my mom 13 years ago. Mother’s Day is a day I had come to dread. And standing in front of the array of cards to select one more my mother-in-law is difficult beyond words. But you are right — life goes on and love lives on and if we listen closely, and pay close attention, we will hear their voices and feel the love that is them.

    You have done your father proud I am sure, with this post.

  2. R. Sherman Says:

    I second Lyn’s last sentence.

    My dad’s been gone almost 18 years; my father-in-law 17. I miss them so much. Not every day but when something comes up and I would like their counsel and wisdom.

    One never gets rid of those feeling/longings. In fact, with each passing day, they grow stronger, I think.

    Best to your husband on Father’s Day.

  3. Rob Says:

    Your father would indeed be ever so proud of you, and of all his grand children too. Lovely photo – he certainly seems to have enjoyed every day of his relatively short life on this earth and that is something worth celebrating on this day. There is one sad fact, that no-one gets out of this world alive, and all we can do is try our best to leave the world a bet place than when we arrived, and I know that your Dad certainly did that.

  4. theoryaday Says:

    You captured the feelings of loss well. Without being maudlin or trite. Thank you. You are an exceptional writer and jeweler.

  5. Merry Says:

    It’s been so long since my father was here on Father’s Day that I thought I’d gotten used to it. But it hit me when I read this — it’s been 26 years, so he’s been gone for longer than I knew him. That is a mournful thought.

  6. TheMadHouse Says:

    What a heartfelt post. I lost my father 10 years ago and fathers day is always bittersweet to me.

  7. Elaine Says:

    I am so grateful for my 68 year old father, who is still here, and acting like a 46 yr old. And I really miss my 98yr old grandfather who died two years ago. You convey so strongly the pain of missing your father. I am glad you found your card to your Dad opened. You sent it. He opened it. That is something tangible. He knew.

  8. 3limes Says:

    A beautiful legacy and a special way to remember. I adore the Auden poem. I believe that memories such as this keep people alive, albeit in our hearts.

  9. nappyvalleygirl Says:

    I feel the same about Mother’s Day. It just reminds me that my Mum’s not here. But good to remember that life goes on…

  10. Marianne Says:

    I never really knew my father and never learnt to miss him. Reading this makes me see a little of what I lost. My children’s father chose not to live with his sons when they needed him the most. Life sucks sometimes.

  11. Miss Welcome Says:

    I am so glad your dad opened your card.

  12. nmaha Says:

    This post made me stop and thank whoever’s up there, that my parents are here for my daughter to love and learn from. I can’t imagine a world without my dad, though I know that we all are headed one way. It scares me to think that one day our family might be different.

    Your dad looks like he would have made a lovely grandad. Hope your husband had a beautiful father’s day with his children.

  13. Becky Says:

    This was my first Father’s Day without my father. I find myself at 46 feeling bereft. I think the love does last forever, though it will take a while to realize it again, and to realize that it will flow differently now. Thank you so much for the beautiful post.

  14. Tattie Weasle Says:

    The loss of the people we love never ever goes away. But there is one thing my Grandad used to instill in me especially in the weeks before he died: I live forever in you and with you – you are my immortality. I didn’t quite understand it but with sons of my own now I think I get his drift. It is in my son’s eyebrows as it is in your son’s smile.

  15. ExpatNode.com | Blog | Father’s Day Says:

    […] https://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com/ […]

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