Tonight, at the end of the day, this day being the 7th of December 2012, 71 years after the Japanese military attack on the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor, I admit my familial sorrow.
Dad, I miss you and hearing your voice.
Not that we talked a lot.
No, as you aged — as we aged — you grew grumpier, more grouchy, more angry at a culture that became less and less familiar, making our conversations a give-and-take on your views that the world was going to hell in a handbasket over the falls, up shit creek without a paddle, or a pot to sit on and shit in.
Of course you were right.
Your world did go to hell, the last months and days in your medical conditions (ALS – bulbar option?) not enjoyable — a PEG tube in your belly, a ventilator down your throat, and IV needles in your arms like quills in a porcupine — unable to speak or swallow.
At least we had that one last enjoyable drive through the countryside in east Tennessee before we took you to the hospital.
The three of us, minus your daughter (my sister), two parents and a son taking in the view of farms, freeways, subdivisions and downtown Kingsport where you had worked and shopped for over 40 years.
Dad, a few weeks ago, we survived our first family Thanksgiving without you.
I sat in your chair, the eldest male taking the reins but not able to fill your shoes.
A little over two weeks from now, we’ll celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day.
We’ll open presents, eat too much food, drink a shot of Rebel Yell in your honour and…
We’ll miss you.
You touched a lot of people’s lives.
I never knew how many people who felt your positive influence until we saw the hundreds that came to pay our family respects to you before your memorial service.
I’m still amazed and will always be so.
Dad, Mom said you were quite a good dancer.
Tonight, while I was struggling across the dance floor with my wife, watching many other couples gracefully sway, I remembered when you used to enjoy square dancing with Mom.
She misses you a lot more than I do, learning about the little things you took care of around the house without her having to know about them — checking air filters, winterising the garage door, changing the temperature settings on the heat pump, and paying bills.
I’ll never be like you Dad.
Of course I can’t tell you that in person. Instead, I have this blog to catch these word trails that my thoughts create. Me, the casual writer.
Many a person told me that you were proud of me but I rarely heard you say that to me when you were alive.
Funny, isn’t it, how we think we know who we are in our parents’ eyes but don’t.
Somehow, I thought you were always disappointed in me but maybe it’s just because part of me is disappointed with me for not following a track I had announced to others I had taken, a track I thought was what you wanted me to take but I didn’t want to.
Instead, I had to be the me I want(ed) to be. And am.
Well, Dad, I guess I better go on to bed. My wife and the cats are snuggled under the covers fast asleep while Christmas music plays on the TV during this writing session, making me sleepy, too.
Plus, I’m no longer hot and sweaty from dancing.
Also, I no longer feel a streak of envy at the ability of the dancers around me earlier tonight who appeared so light on their feet it made me hurt.
I should remind myself of the many people who are physically and mentally unable to dance but would like to.
That’s why I miss you tonight, Dad. You would have triggered that thought in me immediately without my having to find it hours later by writing for a while on a cold plastic keyboard wirelessly connected to a warm CPU and motherboard.
Dad, I never thought about being here, writing you this note when you’re dead and buried.
But that’s okay. I don’t know everything. I can’t see the future through the emotional cloud of family, a weakness I’m proud to claim.
Good night, Dad. I’ll see you again soon in my dreams. These next few weeks are going to be tough but we’ll get through them, knowing you’d want us to tough it out like good soldiers.
Thanks for serving in the U.S. Army when our nation called you to service.