This is one of my most prized possessions. It is a photograph of my father at about age 5. He was born in 1915. It was the one thing that I told my Dad that I wanted someday. It's dated in pencil on the back.
I have it hanging in my kitchen. I look at it everyday. I get up and make my coffee and I look at my Dad. Even though he's just a little kid in the photo I can still see him clearly in my mind. It's the same eyes and nose and mouth. Sometimes I can see him when I look in the mirror. I have his nose and mouth. Unfortunately I don't have his blue eyes. I used to complain about that, why couldn't I have the same blue eyes. He, of course said that I was lucky because I had my Mother's brown eyes and he loved her eyes.
My Dad has been gone for 17 years now. 17 years and 10 days. Some years on that day, I will briefly think about his passing. I spend a few moments allowing myself to really think about him. Then sometimes, like this year, it all comes soaring back and I feel like someone has reached in my chest and squeezed my heart so tight that I can't breathe.
I supposed it's because it fell on a Wednesday again. I didn't have to work that Wednesday and I didn't have the usually distractions.
It doesn't seem like that long. Sure, it wasn't yesterday but maybe 5 or 6 years? I had talked to him the night before. But that wasn't unusual, I talked to him almost daily. But that night I was telling him about a piece of Art work that I had created. I hadn't done any art in years and yet now I had entered in an Exhibition and my piece was hanging in a window of one our downtown shops. I was so proud and I tried to tell him where it was located and he had said not to bother. He probably won't be down to see it. I was so hurt but I kept my feelings to myself. He never understood ART. That was something frivolous. Yet he would praise me about how nice and tidy my kitchen was after I had painted and decorated with towels, curtains and a new rug. Keeping a home clean and tidy, now THAT was important. Sigh.........
We had traveled a very hard and bumpy road together.
He had gone from being a stranger that worked all the time, someone I barely talked to, someone that I dealt mostly with my mother as the interpreter. Then when my Mom passed, my sister and I suddenly had to deal with a strict and old-fashioned private man. Life was not easy.
After I was grown and living on my own, a strange thing happened.
We slowly became friends. It's strange how you can love someone but not really like them. But as time went on we became so close. We would sit and have our talks together and share secrets.
I had gotten my house and he would stop by and work on things. I could see that he wasn't young anymore and I worried about him. I would work side by side along with him in the house and when there was something that required alot of strength I would pretend to act like I wanted to "try" it. I remember pounding down the plaster ceiling before he could get to it. I told him that I had wanted to work out my "stress" and we laughed. He was from that generation were they have so much pride.
I only had 2 dogs back then. My Golden Retriever "Maddie" and a crazy little mix named "Jack".
My Dad would go to my house everyday and let them out for me. He had said not to ever worry about my dogs, he would take care of them for me.
One day during our talks he told me that I was his best friend and I realized that he was mine too.
We had come so far. And as with all friends, there are always things that you don't agree on. Things they sometimes say that hurt your feelings but you love them.
So... I never said anything that night when he couldn't be bothered to see my Art piece in the window.
And the next day at work as I was about to leave for lunch, my manager called me to her office for a phone call. My Dad's neighbor was on the phone, calling for my Step-Mom. She had come home for lunch and found my Dad. He was gone. He had passed from a heart attack.
I was devastated. It took a very long time for me to work through the grief.
There would be moments when I would start to go to the phone to call him and then remember.
I remember once being out in the backyard in the dark and watching my crazy dog "Jack" running around trying to catch "lightening-bugs" in the night air. I got up to call Dad to tell him how funny Jack was and then remembered...
Tonight I was out in the garden, doing some weeding . Darkness was slowly creeping up and I gathered up my garden supplies to go in the house. I turned around and looked at my yard in the twilight and I suddenly saw the twinkle of the "lightning-bugs" and I smiled.
I miss him still.