Last week, we received some bad news in regards to my Dad’s health. It looks like he has cancer in his throat. For most people, this would be stressful news all on its own, but for me, it was stressful in more than one way.
My father and I don’t really communicate anymore. I know when I moved back to Austin seven years ago, I had every intention of building a relationship with him. But, after some time, I became acutely aware that our personalities did not mesh well at all. I am, for the most part, a very laid back, peaceful person. I think I tend to give people the impression that my boundaries are flexible. They are not. So, when he would say something offensive, I would object. And because I wouldn’t give lip service on things I won’t compromise on, we would argue which would lead to long lengths of silence. Eventually, we just parted ways permanently.
He’s been on my mind though. I wrote him a text hoping he’d read a book I gave him about death and life after and wishing him well. He didn’t answer, but then again, I knew he wouldn’t. Today, I thought of something I could do though.
I think most of us can agree, we want to be remembered well when we are gone. Some of us have a million friends and loving families and with those comes the knowledge that we will be missed. But for others of us, we don’t have large groups of adoring people, be they friends or family. My family falls into that category. Some of us are introverts; others have been hurt so many times, they’ve hidden themselves behind invisible walls, alone but safe.
So, I thought I’d write out some of the good things I can say about my dad, and maybe that might give him some peace at a time that is so frightening and sad.
My dad taught me how to shoot a gun. Yes. I’m a liberal, yada, yada. I’m also a Texan, and one of my favorite memories was Dad teaching me to shoot a little .22. He also took me fishing as a kid, and explained to me what chum was and why not to put it in the water near a pier.
My parents were divorced, and it was not amiable in the least. So, the few times I did get to visit my dad, he would buy my love. I know. Probably totally unhealthy, but I liked it. He bought me a dollhouse that I just loved, and he got my little brother a train set, which I also loved.
Dad took my kids to the store and bought their love too. He made me laugh with his stories about how all of his roommates would steal from him, and he’d have to go room to room to collect all his things whenever he got back home.
My youngest daughter, Caitlyn, is a very talented artist, and she got that gift from my dad. I like to hear him talk about her with pride in his voice. I like how anything my kids, brother, or I do well, he has a reason that leads straight back to himself.
I like that Dad has a whole following of people who live in the rural areas around Austin, and how even when he is sick and feeling down, he still goes out to check on them and see if they need anything.
I like that my grandson Ian has my Dad’s smile, with the dimples and all.
When my father does eventually pass away, it won’t be the hard, angry stuff I will dwell on. Instead, I will try to only remember the stuff that still makes me smile.
And to my Dad: I do love you. Read the damn book.
~ Catherine (Bird)