The Thing About Father's Day When Your Father Is Gone

I always loved spending Father's Day with my dad. My dad was a comical guy who had a way with words. My sister, mom and I would pull out all of the stops to be sure Father's Day was special because he did all he could to make us feel special all year round.

Although my dad was an impeccable dresser, he had no issue wearing our puffy finger paint designed Father's Day t-shirts with pride. As my sister and I got older, we had cook-outs and bought my dad fun gifts that he was sure to use. We would have our uncles over too and carry on late into the night sitting in the garage laughing at the jokes my father would tell.

After some years, my father became very ill and he was temporarily at a Physical Rehabilitation facility to aid in his recovery. Our family would vist daily to make him feel like he was at home. June rolled in and we anticipated him coming home.

After a normal visit, I drove home and opened the door right as the phone rang. It was my father checking in like always to make sure I arrived safely. We chatted for a bit and I asked, "Dad, what would you like for Father's Day?"

He was quiet for a few seconds, sighed and then said, "I would like to come home."

I felt a lump of frustration rise in my throat because I too wanted my Father to come home. Yet, he was recovering from a stroke and several medical mishaps pushed his release date back.

"I know, but we'll do something out there for Father's Day and you'll be home by the 4th of July, then we'll do it big!." I said.

Dad didn't seem convinced but he wanted to believe me so he replied, "Okay, that would be nice."

We talked for about 20 minutes more and then my dad said he was tired and would call me early tomorrow.

"I love you, Dad." I said

"I love you, too" he replied.

The next day, my dad didn't call me early like he said he would and I thought his physical therapy ran over so I figured it was no big deal.

By noon, I was frantic when called his room and it didn't ring through.

My chest was heaving when I called the nurse's station and was told to get there immediately.

Honestly, I don't remember the drive there but I do remember how different the rehab facility felt when I walked in: The place that was once bright, seemed dim and dusty. The air seemed stale and and stagnant. I noticed the blandness of the floor, walls and fake plants. I knew at that exact moment, before the doctor told me, that my father passed away.

This was one week before Father's Day 2004.

I took my father's death beyond hard, I nearly died of grief. My appetite disappeared and I lost 25 pounds in 2 weeks. I would have paralyzing emotional breakdowns at work and was useless there. My body required me to sleep 14 hours at a time and my joints ached from chronic depression. Distancing myself from friends and family seemed normal to me at the time. I didn't want to take pictures, be happy,
eat good food, or enjoy life because I felt guilty.

Then one day, I swore I heard my father's voice telling me to get my shit together. I got up and looked in the mirror and saw someone I didn't know looking back at me. I decided then to stop killing myself. I reclaimed my life, it was a challenge but I discovered my self worth again.

Even 9 years later, Father's Day brings that itchy feeling to my eyes right before a tear is about to fall. The models on TV wearing the khaki shorts and polo shirts preparing for tee-time nauseate me. It has become a retail holiday and nothing more.

I cringe when I hear from others that they haven't spoken to their dads for weeks, months or even years due to some stupid and petty issue that doesn't matter.

How can you have a dad who is alive and not want to talk to him?

No one could ever imagine how badly I long to be able to see or hear my father again, even for just one moment.

Father's Day has never been the same for me, ever.

I hope that you find time to make your father (or father figure) feel important and cherished while you still have him in your life. If there is drama hanging between you, let it go. There is no warning before your father is gone forever.

Thanks so much for reading my post and feel free to share. Follow me on twitter @TheRealJoyRene.. I hope all of you dads have a lovely Father's Day!

Yep, you're welcome

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