I really miss my Dad. It was Father’s Day yesterday and it’s a celebration that I’ve automatically shut out mainly because I haven’t had a father since my Dad passed away in 1996. Father’s Day, my birthday, and my Dad’s death have always been intertwined since that fateful day. My birthday, June 17, always falls a week or two away from Father’s Day, since that falls 2nd or 3rd Sunday of June, or something like that. In 1996, my birthday came around two weeks after Father’s Day. It was the last ever gathering my Dad ever attended since we checked him in to the hospital maybe 2 or 3 days after my birthday. A day after we brought him to the hospital, he went blind, had multiple seizures, and eventually went into a coma. A day after that, and he passed away — June 22, a mere 5 days after my 29th birthday. So every time my birthday comes rolling along, I remember my Dad.
It was nice having a father. I had that safe, secure feeling that as long as he was around, everything would be okay. And even if things don’t turn out okay, he’ll be there, to cushion the blow. He wasn’t affectionate, he wasn’t warm, and he didn’t wear his endearments on his sleeve. But by some arcane enchantment, he made us all feel LOVED, without saying it, without displaying it.
It’s ironic then, that the best thing that ever happened to our family was his death. It was only after he died that we all had to finally grow up. We all needed to grow some much needed backbone. We relied so much on his guidance, his fortitude, his stability, that we not only made him our rock, we made him our crutch. And when you take away the crutches, we then had to learn how to walk again for a second time.
It’ll be 12 years on the 22nd since he left us, but if I close my eyes, I can seriously suspend disbelief and actually feel like he’s still alive; that he’s just downstairs, sitting in his lazyboy, reading a newspaper. Strangely, during my most trying of times, he is still the first person who pops into my head, as if my mind was programmed to automatically beg him for help. I’m reduced to that tiny toddler, holding his arms straight up, as a sign that he’s weary, and that he needs his Dad to pick him up and carry him, to deliver him from the burden of carrying his own weight.
I really miss him a lot. When I start paying bills, buying a car or a home, getting insurance, getting a memorial plan and generally worrying about the future, I realize these were the very things he worried about at the time when all I had to worry about was getting the latest issue of “The Uncanny X-Men”. I don’t want him back; I wouldn’t want him to go all “Pet Sematary” on me. I just like reminiscing about him because I associate him with the good times. When Daddy was around, things were okay.
But to be fair, things are not so bad now, and we all have been better people since Daddy died, so it’s all good. And I consider myself a daddy as well, with 4 dogs and 3 cats. Deride me if you must, but I really take my responsibilities as a human to my pets, seriously. Obviously they’re not my offspring, and no, I haven’t bred with some hairy quadruped, but “children” have meanings other than the literal. I am my father’s child, not just literally, but also spiritually. I took from him not just nourishment for by body, but also food for the soul. He was no mystic guru who spouted fountains of infinite wisdom, but I learned more about life from him, by merely watching how he lived his life, as ordinary and mundane and uneventful as it had been. Simply, his life was led by kindness. And if I could be half as kind as my father was, I’d be twice the man I am now.