An old friend and I had lunch today. That in itself is unremarkable. As was our marking of Father’s Day here in the States.
Our fathers passed within a few years of each other, as did our mothers. And her only sibling passed away around the time my sister was diagnosed with cancer.
We became members of that club—you know, the one of loss. The one where, if you grieve and do it “right”, you walk out of the experience wiser, softer and stronger all at the same time.
We both loved our dads dearly. But even though both of us teared up at the mention of them, ours was a quiet remembrance. We’ve not posted memoriams on Facebook, visited cemeteries, had a long weep.
I completely understand why some people do this on Father’s Day or Mother’s Day. I’ve been one of them in years past. Fresh grief is the worst. The first remembrance can be the hardest.
So this is not a judgment on those who are in bits and pieces today. I get it. I’m sorry for your loss.
I must say, though, two years after my father’s death, I remember him differently. I may be back to bits and pieces next year. But this year, I know him so strongly as a part of me that I feel my very living—my being true to myself—is remembering and honoring him.
I asked my friend if she was like her father and her face lit up with a grin. An unequivocal “yes” came from her lips. I knew this; don’t ask me how. She is always quick with a laugh, a drink (or two, or three), quick to tear up when she feels your pain, quick to speak her mind about injustice or slights. The highest honor she can give her father is bringing her quirky, light-filled self to the world. And she’s doing it with amazing grace and courage.
I’d like to think I’m doing the same. My father did things that were honest and right simply because they were honest and right. He kept life simple that way. I try to do the same.
He reveled in nature. Loved a cold beer at the end of a hard day. Had control issues with chocolate almond ice cream. Danced like there was no tomorrow. May have spoken in a big voice when angry but also would have jumped in front of a moving train to save any of his daughters. He denied himself trips and treats so he could leave something to the next generation.
Man, I loved him. Miss him. But today, instead of flowery sentiments, I am just living my life the best I can. As I do every day. Sometimes I hit a homerun. Sometimes I screw it up. Just like he did.
I hope, years from now when I am gone, my boys will honor me. I don’t need my visage posted on whatever social media is du jour. I don’t need flowery speeches. If I have two grown men who are honest, kind, thoughtful, wise, broad-minded and courageous, that is tribute enough for me.
I hope they have my quick laughter. I hope they value honesty and genuineness. I hope they are quick to apologize, if quick to anger. In short, I hope the seeds I have planted stick.
My dad’s did. And that’s about the highest tribute I can pay him. To honor what was planted in me. As, I’m sure, so many of you have done today.
Happy Father’s Day.