Dad. We all miss you so very much.
Fifteen years is a long time to be reminded every year. Every day. Fifteen years is something that seems so vague. Even after that many years, sometimes, it just feels like yesterday. I’ll be honest here. It doesn’t get much easier. It becomes tolerable, but it never goes away.
My dad has been gone for what seems forever. He left us on the 16th of April, 1997 in a pretty horrific motorcycle accident. Today, I find myself in a very strange place. Not the sorrowful self I usually am around this time of year, but for the first time, I feel sort of lost and frustrated. The last fifteen years, I have traveled, moved across the country, met beautiful and amazing people, learned about myself and moved again, this time across oceans.
I’ve spent the last fifteen years digging deep within myself, trying to discover what I can about me. The older I get, the more I can’t help but laugh - sometimes I channel my Mom. But then sometimes, I say something or do something I can’t explain. I think, maybe that would have been Dad.
It’s a weird feeling. I have all of these memories and these great times we had in my mind, but he still seeps out of me sometimes. But is it him? I feel like I didn’t get to know him as a person other than Dad.
I remember back in ‘97, at the weird little memorial service we had at the funeral home, a group of men showed up. His old co-workers from E.B. had come to pay their respects. That was when I realised, I would never get the chance to ask him about - well, him. It was a whole other piece of his life and personality I would never know about. A life that, when you are a teenager, doesn’t quite seem important to ask. There are the obvious things that one knows about their fathers, forms of discipline, favourite foods, favourite colours, favourite beer.
But then, there are other things of vague memories that come back. Two copies of the Bhagavad-gītā As It Is on one bookcase. Stories about great grandparents. Long lost friends of his that you can sort of remember. The sound of his motorcycle starting up in the basement underneath my bedroom as he left for work. The smell of the cigars he would smoke whilst doing crosswords and drinking beer in the afternoon sun. Those quiet dinners when it was just the two of us. World class tuna-bake. Thrift stores he would take me to in New Jersey and the old 70’s shirts he loved. Driving to Salem, Massachusetts to visit a motorcycle shop just because we enjoyed the drive. Or going to Logan Airport in Boston to pick up plane tickets for Chicago, then going to the Science Museum, mostly because he liked the drive. 10 mile bike rides around Plainfield. Birthdays. Kazoos. His midwestern ways. His southern rock ways. Listening to John Lennon’s Mind Games over and over in the blue Datsun. The tinkering in the basement probably to avoid us and our dance-routine nights in front of the big windows in the living room. (Fair enough, how many times could one person listen to Kool and the Gang’s She’s Fresh? I don’t blame him for that one.) Receiving postcards from various motorcycle trips cross-country. His notes on them, always short and sweet..
- The Grand Canyon “AWESOME! Love, Dad”.
- Gila Cliff Dwelling, New Mexico, “ Hi, I got pictures of my own of this place, Everything is fine. Love, Dad”
- Texas, “Hi Beth, It’s another card to save. People are really friendly here. See ya, Love you. (and at the very bottom) The scenery is starting to change.”
- Las Vegas, “Hi, In the true spirit of Vegas, I got this at 3:00AM. They have drive-in wedding chapels here. Really!”
- Lake Tahoe, “Hello from Nevada. Quite Nice. Love, Dad”
That always seemed to be about the extent of his conversations, enough to make the point and barely long enough to fill a postcard. He was a quiet person and when he spoke, you knew you needed to listen. As Aunt Mary said recently, about both Dad and his grandfather William :
Exactly alike. Tall, thin, quiet, no tolerance for idle chitchat or material things.
As I remember all of these things about him, I am sad. Yes, I miss the old times, but mostly, I wish we had had more time together. More time now that I am grown and older myself. But for now, I’ll just channel those weird quirks of his and call them my own.