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Dealing With The Loss of My Father

A couple of weeks ago, I was pushing a cart down the aisle of a thrift store. To my left was a rack filled with dozens of linens, blankets, and drapes and to my right were shelves full of toys and stuffed animals. And just there in the middle of that stupid aisle, I was sucker-punched by a teddy bear with his pile rubbed raw and his felt nose missing. He reminded me of all the trips I made to thrift stores with my father over the years and all the stuffed animals he ever bought me. I abandoned my cart and left the store.

I guess this is what dealing with the loss of my father looks like. You’re perfectly fine, going about your business, and then you remember your father is all but gone and the thought arrests you in the middle of a lame store. You have to leave, and you sit in your car in the parking lot and cry for 15 minutes. Then some idiot taps on your window and asks if you’re OK.

Then, yesterday, I read a comment on my blog from my brother. It was just a casual comment about the rock-n-roll issue of Oklahoma Today. Billy wrote that my dad loved Wanda Jackson and had all her albums.

What? I didn’t even know my dad knew who Wanda Jackson was. How did I miss that?

And, last night, I couldn’t sleep because I was wondering what else I don’t know about my dad, and now I’m never going to know it. And, I’m 41, and I see the years stretching out before me, and I’m starting to figure out that I’m probably going to live more years without my dad than I lived with him. I wish our parents could live forever.

 

***

Every year, my dad wiped the tears from his eyes on Mother’s Day before they could stroll down his cheeks. He pinned a white carnation on his suit jacket and honored the memory of his mother. She died when I was five and when he was 42. As a child, that seemed plenty old enough to me for him not to take the loss so hard.

Funny how 42 doesn’t seem nearly old enough these days.

***

I miss you, Dad.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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7 Comments

  1. Daddy Forever

    I know a little bit about how you feel. I’m going though that with my mom. She’s alive, but not really. She doesn’t me anymore. Doesn’t know my wife or my kids. She just babbles endless.

  2. jen

    @Beck – What a beautiful comment. And, what a wonder – that we both feel Dad’s presence in the thrift store — maybe more there than church, huh?

    Don’t cry, Beck, but I’ve been waiting, too, for so very long. The time is right.

  3. jen

    @John – I can’t wait to read those poems. My father would have thought you were brilliant. I hope my sibs read this and head over to Robert Frost’s Banjo.

    @Kent – You see – that’s just it. 20 is so young – 22 years less than I have been given right now. There is never a good age to lose a parent. We will always miss them, but older is better, yes? I loved your comment. It puts into perspective how 34 years can’t dull a memory of someone as dear as mother.

  4. Rebecca

    Jen,

    The summer before 8th grade daddy bought me a beginner guitar. I’m sure you probably remember it… Several years and another guitar later he helped me land a singing gig at the Blue House in Colorado Springs…remember that? I was in HSchool sang and played my guitar one weekend a month for tips…

    Well…when I married my little guitar was set aside to make room for toys for babies. I sadly sold it for grocery money and truthfully never looked back. I just couldn’t… That was until about 3 months ago when I found one in a thrift store and started to strum it. I started to cry and cry and couldn’t stop…so I put the guitar down and left. The only thing I said to Steve was that I hoped to sing and play a guitar again for daddy before…well…you know.

    Would you like to know what Steve bought me for Mother’s Day? A guitar. I had no idea he even remembered the day in the thrift store. His single statement to me when he handed me the case was “Now…practice up…your dad is waiting…”

    Needless to say I was wasted for the rest of the afternoon.

    I’m still remembering only the good.

    xoB

  5. John Hayes

    So sorry for your grief– I know you are in a hard position with your father. At a certain point I realized there was nothing more I’d learn about my father either, at least not directly from him or his brothers (who both died before him). This is a moving & “real” piece of writing, & writing such as this may offer you some consolation. The poems I’ve written lately have dealt not only with the loss of my father but also the loss (not from death but from ways parting in life) of certain people who meant a great deal to me. They’ve also helped with some pretty intense feelings of bereavement.

    Completely off-topic: in case you missed my earlier comment, there’s an award for you over at RFBanjo.

  6. Anonymous

    Jen–
    Don’t post this — I want to ask a question– It is easier to reach you through your blog than by sending an email.

    How do I find the HAZ NAZ? I tried finding it all I got was information of golf.

    Could you send me the link>

    Thanks a bunch– Mom

  7. kent fischer

    I lost my mother at 20, and I’m 54 now. You are right the memories are as vivid today as they were then. And our wishes that they were still around are still within our thoughts.

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