I didn't expect this, my third Father's Day without him, to hurt as much as it did.
Dad and I didn't even spend most of the Father's Days of my adult life together; instead we would usually agree to celebrate him once we got to Rehoboth Beach for our annual early July family vacation.
To be honest, a proper celebration never really happened but he didn't complain. Dad always just seemed happy for all of us to have time together, whenever it was.
My dad would be the first to say that Mom did the heavy lifting as far as parenting me was concerned. I grew up thinking that I had Dad's perfect acceptance, even when he disagreed with me. In elementary school, if I had a half-day, it was usually Dad who took me out for lunch (Denny's!). He took great pains not to say 'no' to be while I was growing up.
Mom is undeniably My Person. To this day, she doesn't realize how much she influences me still. As a kid, Mom and I were more likely than Dad and me to butt heads because if she thought I was wrong, she would absolutely say so. But the reality was, if Dad didn't like the boy who was calling the house or thought my skirt was so short, it was Mom who would hear from him, not me. I never knew. He played the best possible game - sorry Mom.
I realize that Father’s Day doesn’t end just because I lost mine. But it's a hard day for those of us whose dads have passed on, or whose dads weren't around (or worse, were around and didn't do their best). The email newsletters from every brand under the sun, suggesting I make an online purchase BECAUSE DAD have started making me feel an anger I didn't realize was in me.
My friend Carolyn, who lost her dad Jim a few months after I lost mine, got in touch first thing this morning. She's great at that. Carolyn reminded me that our fathers' absence hurts as much as it does because we had wonderful dads.
On the days that hurt extra, I try to push through. But today, pushing through led me to be That Girl, crying in Starbucks. Even after almost three years without my father, his friends and mine are still finding fresh stories about my sweet dad. Today it was my beloved childhood friend Leslie, sharing an anecdote (you can read it here) that cracked my heart wide open. It touched me more than I can put into words that my tender-hearted dad extended his kindness to my friend who needed it.
(I'm reluctant to tell you I cried because I absolutely don't want any of you to stop talking with me about Dad.)
And if you read my eulogy for my father, you know that was one of many times when Dad's sweetness saved the day. Dad touched a lot of people, but most certainly Mom and me.
I have been so fortunate. But today hurts.