Today would have been my dads 72nd birthday. He passed away suddenly 11 months ago, and has been on my mind a lot lately. After my grandmother died in 2014, my dad changed. I didn’t understand the change fully for a few months. After she passed away, he told me he wanted to be a better father to my sister and I, a better grandfather to his grandchildren. I half believed him. What did i need a dad for at my age?
You know what? He did change, and I found that I did need a dad. He was there for my sister and I the last two years of his life in ways he had rarely been there for most of our lives. He had always been the fun dad, more of a friend than parent. He let my mom do the heavy load of parenting, and fully acknowledged this.
After my grandmothers death, dad became more emotional. He would come to Michigan on a moments notice just to see us. He helped me do stuff around my house, helped my sister when she was sick. He would just sit with me when Mike was in the hospital, and hold my hand. He would just be here. I miss him so much.
When I married Mike my dad openly wept at the wedding. We got married by our pastor with only a few people in attendance. I was somewhat surprised at how emotional my dad got. I always wondered if he cried so hard at the wedding because after being my grandmothers primary caregiver for the last several years of her life, he knew what i was going to go through as Mikes illness progressed. I’ll never know why he wept because my dad would never say anything to me less than encouraging. He rarely gave advice, and never unsolicited. When i did ask his opinion, he would weigh out his words very very carefully, before saying something thoughtful and meaningful. It could have just been a very touching moment for him, and he wept out of happiness for us. I never asked him.
Growing up, I thought my dad was so handsome, and the smartest person in the world. He was funny, and the ladies loved him. I have heard from many of his friends since he passed, and believe me it gives me great comfort. That is something that anyone who has suffered great loss can tell you. We long for people to bring up our loved ones in conversation. We love to hear your old stories about our lost loved ones. They are never far from our thoughts, and keeping them alive in your words helps us.
Loss does change us. Grief changes us. My dad changed after his mothers death, and i have changed after his death. In some respects i don’t even recognize the person I am right now. My emotions are right there all the time, and it is so annoying. It gets annoying crying in the grocery store, or on the phone when you are talking to a contractor about getting your floors redone. I just do the best i can, and try to be patient with myself. I am not ignoring my grief, but am trying not to wallow in it either.
My mom and my sister used to say that i walk just like him, and that I am a lot like him in many ways. They don’t always mean that in a good way. That’s ok with me. I think he would be proud of how i have handled myself in the last year. I think he would be proud of the way i have parented my daughter largely alone, put negative people out of my life, loved fiercely and deeply, and kept my people close. He would be proud that my sister and I are strong women, good mothers to our children, and good wives to our husbands.