Sunday, June 15, 2008

Missing Dad~

It's been more than five years since my father died. He had Parkinson's disease and yes, he was "old," but it was a moment of negligence in the hospital that took his life. Grief loses its sharp edge, but it has a way of tapping you on the shoulder when you least expect it.

How do you stop missing your father?

You don't.

These were words I planned to read at his funeral. The minister did it for me.


Good-bye to the man I've known longest in my life:

Anybody who knows me knows that I spend a great deal of time “in my head,” thinking, wondering, analyzing . . . and especially so lately as I’ve watched my father age over the past year or so.

There are so many lessons I’ve learned from my father, so many attitudes and values and philosophies that I’ve absorbed through the years. And it shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did, to find that even after his death there is more to learn from him.

Just going through his files and books has revealed a depth that I was unaware of. After all, he was my Dad. I lived with him for so many years and cast him in the role of parent. I sometimes overlooked the man, a person unique to himself, apart from his role as my Dad.

I found myself standing in his den, looking at the many books he had accumulated over the years, books that I remember once telling him were boring. His love for his Scottish heritage and his interest in all things military are evident. So many of the books that I pulled out to peek in, (and still found boring), held a special memento set aside there by him; a bible verse in one, a clipping from a church bulletin in another, a Scottish quote, a poem, father’s day cards . . . And in others, little drawings Rob and I had made for him, saved and dated with loving care. Because, not only did he collect things for his many hobbies, he collected bits and pieces of love from his family.

Watching him decline in heath was difficult. He was self reliant and stubborn and independent to the end. And watching him adjust to giving up the independence was not easy on any of us. But he did maintain his dignity, and even in the most dependent of situations, such as being helped up from a fall by Hanover’s wonderful EMT’s, he always managed a wry joke or humorous comment. Those who knew him are familiar with his dry wit. It saw him through to the end.

I saw his dignity in the most undignified moment, his humor in tough times, his acceptance of circumstances he didn't like, his concern for others when all our concern was for him, and his never-wavering love for my mother, Rob and me.

How do you stop missing your father?

You don't.
Dad's Carrot Bread (published in the Christian Science Monitor)
Last year's memorial post~

There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. ~John Gregory Brown


Tere said...

Ruth, this is so touching. I truly feel your pain only for my mom. And you are so right, you never stop missing them. My thoughts are with you today.

Wanda said...

Ruth, this is so endearing and beautiful. I still miss my Dad, and he passed when I was in my twenties.

You do find out much when going through their things. My dad was a poet, we never new until some scaps of paper were found tucked in books or a Bible.

Thank you for sharing these tender moments ~ and I concur You don't stop missing them. But you do continue to learn from them.

Love and Hugs
Wish I could hand you a peach!!!

david mcmahon said...

Hi Ruth,

I'm so glad you liked my Odd Shots post.

What a heartfelt tribute this is to your father. It's great to see that memories are cherished.

Pauline said...

You're right - one never stops missing. My own father died over 30 years ago and I still feel those quick, sharp pangs when something reminds me of him. This is a lovely tribute -

Janice Thomson said...

What a touching tribute Ruth. Your writing hones in on these emotions with a profundity one rarely finds these days. I still have my father but my mother is gone for some 8 years now and the emotions are the same. There were many wonderful , startling and occasionally a sad thing found when going through her things. We never really know a person completely, do we.

leslie said...

My friend Cathy & I had lunch after church on Sunday and shared our thoughts about our fathers. This was the first year for both of us without them and it was bittersweet as we didn't wish them back in the condition they were in. But I know they had good lives and it was their time to move on to the next part of their journey through whatever it is we go through. But we still miss them, don't we?

Anonymous said...

I can see your Dad in your face.

magiceye said...

brilliant tribute..

sc morgan said...

I remember the story of your dad's death and I'm sorry all over again. I can see why the minister had to read for you. I think I would have been choked up before I got started. A great piece of writing, Ruth.

And, I see a definite facial resemblance between you and your dad.

Barbara said...

What a wonderful tribute to your father. Being missed is the legacy of a good parent.

Lisa said...

This post is so beautiful, Ruth. You are so lucky to have had such a lovely man for a dad. Thank you for sharing this.