It has now been one year. One year since Dad passed away, quietly, while the hospice women cleaned and cared for him. We were at home, at Mom’s, and getting ready to go to see him. Mom was still in bed when I got the call. I was able to tell her, hug her, hold her, and not cry. I still have not cried. A year and I have not shed a tear for my father.
He was a hard man in so many ways. I have tried to be in his shoes and look through his eyes often. He lost his first wife after a long battle with polio at a very young age and was left with a three-year-old daughter who was the spitting image of his dead bride. Who, though she didn’t know it growing up, was told later that she even had her mother’s mannerisms. Could this be the crisis that hardened his heart? That caused him to withdraw into alchohol and anger? To make him so over-protective that he made his home a prison for his daughter and his second wife?
The public man was a very different man. He was boisterous and bold. Laughing and joking. The life of the party. If you were in a restaurant with him, he was rarely at the table. You would find him in the kitchen, talking to the head chef, the manager, and flirting with all the waitresses.
He was proud of his Irish heritage and St. Patrick’s Day was “his” holiday. He was known for taking off work two days – one to celebrate, one to recouperate. He would go to the local Irish pub and spend the day drinking, joking, laughing, and pinching pretty girls on the backside. His dream was to one day go to the ‘homeland’ and see it all. He never made it… time and life got in the way.
I’m a middle-aged mom of four now. I have a grandchild, a bunch of grand-critters, and a man who has spent three decades with me. I have a life that now revolves around trips to see my mother. To visit, to help out with small chores that she can’t do on her own, to try and give her some company and support. I see the changes in her this year. In many ways she is stronger – not having to follow what rules my father dictated. She is lonely and misses him, I know, and I’m sure she has shed many a tear for him. Me? I still can’t.
I wonder sometimes if I am too harsh a judge. Too unforgiving. I hope he is at peace now. I hope someday to know that for sure. Guess that time will come soon enough. It sure seems to go by quicker all the time… I can’t believe it has really been a year.
Peace be with you, Dad.