When I lost my Dad I felt like a part of me had died too. Grief was a tangible object that I held in my hand all the time and couldn’t put down. Like a jagged rock. I wasn’t ready for him to leave. He wasn’t ready to go.
As the months and years went by I started to put my rock away in my pocket for little bits of time. I’d always put my hand in my pocket to feel the sharp edges. They were still there.
Grief was like that for me – a constant, ever present companion that hurt to think about.
Time passed in a blur of sadness contradicted by the joy my two babies gave me.
Even though I could not believe it would happen, I stopped putting my hand in my pocket so much. I always felt it at least once a day, usually more. Sometimes I forced myself to not touch that rock and not feel guilty about it.
Now, 17 years later my pocket is never empty, and that gives me comfort.
I believe that it’s ok to carry that rock around. It’s edges are smoother now from all the handling and it’s become more of a comfort rock.
I have so many very fond memories of my Dad. He was a tree hugger; lover of nature; the biggest Toronto Maple Leaf fan ever; a proud parent and grandpa; he had a wicked sense of humour; he was a talented artist and draftsman. He was the glue that held our family together.
My bedroom was at the end of the hall facing the living room where my Dad would watch tv after getting the 4 of us to bed. Sometimes, he’d let me sneak out of bed to snuggle up beside him on the couch to watch the Rockford Files. Or if I asked a question about hockey – his favourite sport – he’d start explaining all sorts of hockey stuff and go on and on, not noticing it was way past my bedtime.
He tucked me in every night too. I liked it when he tucked the sheets under the mattress so I was squished in there good and tight – like a hug he’d leave behind.
He was quite the character, especially at knowing how to help relieve stress as I wrote about here.
Dad had a great way with kids and dogs. He’d start growling behind his beard, deep down in his throat and wait for a dog to get really close to him to see where the noise was coming from. Then, after a few sniffs he’d explode into loud and majestically insane barking and scare the crap out of them. They loved that game.
My Dad would have turned 79 years old today. I miss him so much and wish my kids could have grown up with him. He would have been very proud of them and they would have had a great grandpa and male role model.
You know when people ask you who you’d speak to if you could have 5 minutes with anyone? I pick my Dad. I would tell him that I now understand all the challenges he went through as a single parent. I would ask him a hockey question and enjoy hearing him explain things to me in ridiculous amounts of detail as we cuddled one more time.
If he would talk to me now he’d say “Cheer up Cari-baby.” So I am off to try to do that.
Here’s to you Dad – Happy Birthday.