I did not know if I would be able to write about my dad this father’s day. I was struggling with the idea because I wondered if it would be “fair” if I didn’t acknowledge him since I had written about my mother this past mother’s day. Shouldn’t I give them equal time? When I sat down to write last month, a few weeks before Mother’s Day I was not sure what it would sound like once I finished. I just knew that there was something inside that I wanted to process through words about my childhood and how the subtleties of my surroundings made an impact on the person I am today. I did not set out with the idea of writing my mother a gift, but through my thoughts and reflections that is exactly what was created. As I allowed my feelings to surface, my memories arose and words came spilling out and healing occurred, for me as I wrote, and for my mother as she read.
But if I was to give my dad equal time, wouldn’t that be forced, writing words to just write? On top of that he is not here to read it; he died Jan. 6, 2016. I had not seen him for over, I don’t know, 5 years or so. I didn’t get to say goodbye, I wasn’t even acknowledged as his daughter, there was no funeral, and there is no grave to go to. He is gone. He is not here to read my words, or to feel my love, or sorrow, or wish for reconciliation, or to have our hearts healed through the reminiscing of memories. So over the last few weeks I chose to not write, I figured what’s the use… I really didn’t want to go to those places anyway, those places that I knew deep down inside I needed to go to in order to write with an authentic voice about my dad and I. I was not ready or willing to go on that trip. So I did what I have done for so many years; I pretended there was no need, there was no reason, and there was no hurt, no desire to reconcile... I pretended.
But someone had a different plan for me… I found myself in Trader Joes this afternoon, Father’s Day, buying just the items that I needed to make a nice dinner for the “father” of my children, to honor him and to show him he is loved and appreciated on Father's Day like so many families were doing. Life was good, my son and his girlfriend were on their way to our apartment so I had to be quick and purposeful, in and out… until I heard a song – the song being played in the store, over the sound system, loud and clear. I began to wonder aimlessly, slowly, weaving and pushing my cart around the crates of produce – fighting back a river of tears as Wilson Pickett sang “Land of 1000 Dances”. It swept me up and I slid down a memory, a journey that I entered into as soon as I heard the first lines of his soulful “1, 2, 3”. It is not as if I had not heard songs that reminded me of my dad since he has died, I have, but this was different, very different. And I chose to go without thinking really… my inner most self had no desire to ignore it, or pretend this was not happening. I just listened to the song, consuming every word and I was present in the moment. As tears became heavy in my eyes I felt my dad was saying to me it was OK. Though our relationship was one that suffered with an enormous amount of pain for both us – it was OK… and he understood my anguish and was sorry that he had to leave me the way he did. It felt as if I was alone in the store, just me and Wilson Picket and my dad – I no doubt spoke out loud and said to my dad, thank-you dad, thank-you for showing up today through the music that was so much a part of you that it became a part of me. The music that we shared, the music that you so enjoyed – that we still enjoy today.
And when the song was over and the next song started to play it was as if my dad was gone, slipped away, my composure returned. The checkout clerk, young and energetic with a smile on his face asked if I found everything I needed today… I said yes, thank-you. He had no idea.