MY DAD DIED LAST WEEK.
My dad died last week. He was 78 years old and had suffered from dementia for the last six years. His death was more sudden than expected because he was physically healthy, although his memory was long gone. The struggle I have is that I'm not sad. I'm sad that I'm not sad, but I can't muster any strong emotions over the death of my own father.
His passing has made me think back to my childhood and to the way we were parented. It was a different era and fathers were less involved with their children, but I still felt his notable absence throughout my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood too. He was an only child who did not seem to be able to share himself with others selflessly. His life revolved around his own needs and wants and we were on the periphery of it.
My mum says he was a man of his time, but I have friends who have fabulous relationships with their fathers, or who have happy childhood memories of their fathers playing with them or teaching them life skills or hobbies. I have none of that. Nobody tossed me in the air, gave my bear hugs, tucked me in at night, told tall tales, came to my sporting events, or even visited me and my family regularly later in my life.
I scoured through my photo albums looking for memories - (I'm the oldest child, so there are more photos of me than there are of my brothers.) My grandfather was a hobby photographer so there were some extra pictures that he'd taken over the years. I found a few shots of dad and me - a couple when I was a baby and a couple around when I was about three-ish. You can see one of them above where I'm looking particularly stylish while we were visiting my grandparents.
The photos stop after that. There are no family Christmas shots, no celebrations, no holiday snaps, no embarrassing father/daughter pictures.....nothing. The next photo appears when he is walking me down the aisle at my wedding and that's it. No other father and daughter moments recorded. No lasting memories captured to look back on, probably because there weren't any in real life either.
WHEN YOU HAVE NOTHING TO SAY
His funeral is this week - my brothers thought about speaking, but declined and I just can't. I have nothing to share and no golden moments to reflect back over. I keep thinking back and trying to remember something, but there is nothing I can even faintly recall. It's sad, and I'm sad that it's sad. It's not what I wanted for myself and I made certain it wasn't what my own children experienced. Being treated as an adjunct to someone's life is not how a child should experience their relationship with their father.
Rather than let it all be swept away, I thought I'd make August my month for thinking about parenting. Lessons I've learned from being parented and lessons I've learned from parenting my own children. I hope I have something to offer in the broad spectrum that parenting covers. I'm certainly not an authority on the subject, but I'd like to think I've experienced both sides of the coin and have some thoughts worth sharing.
WHAT IS OUR LEGACY?
I hope when it's our time to pass on, our children have something worthwhile to say about their mother and father, and their love for them. I'd like them to know they were loved beyond measure and to know we invested ourselves in them and their lives. I hope I leave some sort of legacy and I will be missed when I go.
Dad really left us a few years ago because that's when he forgot who we all were, his passing is the closing of a book - I just wish there'd been a few chapters in there somewhere that included his children. RIP Dad.