by JV Flattery
A letter to my Dad on his birthday
I've been meaning to write you, but it's been hard trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to say. You and I had such a tough time being adults with each other, making that difficult transition from parent/kid to parent/parent. I'm sorry for that. I don't know if there were things I was supposed to do and didn't or if there were things you were supposed to do and didn't. It doesn't matter now, but I think it's important we acknowledge that we did love each other, and wanted that, but neither of us knew quite how to get there.
The good news is, the last few years, we did make progress. We got to say "I love you" more. We got to share our feelings, our stories, our memories of what it was like "back in the day". We were different, and I think we were both somewhat confused by that. One of my fondest moments was you and I sitting on the lanai right before your bypass surgery talking about us, and who we were, and how we felt. It was something I think we both needed, we both yearned for, and I'm so glad we gave that to each other. It gave me some peace, and I think it gave you the same.
This past summer, we also got to spend some time together, along with my family, and you got to know your Grandkids a bit better. You got to see what beautiful people they are, and that your legacy, through ML and I, has molded two very special, unique, responsible, and thoughtful individuals. That visit will leave a lasting impression on them, seeing you and I in a good place, knowing that we had to reach out to each other to get there.
Then a couple of weeks ago, you got dizzy and fell, scaring all of us, and motivating another trip to Florida. I think you didn't think it was necessary for Ang and I to come and see you, but I think you ALWAYS thought it was unnecessary for people to do things for you and with you. I wasn't always sure how real that was, or if it was real, what the genesis of it was. I suspect you just didn't want to be a burden, though being a burden isn't what I'd describe visiting someone you love when they're in trouble.
Your reaction was predictable, but not quite as insistent as in the past. I thought you were softening, and in the end, probably realizing this is how people react when they love each other.......and you accepted it. I felt that from you. I saw the light in your face when I walked into the hospital room. You may have said, "You didn't need......", but your face said, "I'm glad to see you, and I'm glad you're here".
I'd like to think we did it, Dad. We got there. The last thing we said to each other was "I love you", and I can't think of a better way to go out.
You did good, Dad. I'm proud of you. I'm proud of us, and who we were together. I was scared I wouldn't miss you, because we didn't talk much. I was wrong.......I do miss you. Sometimes unbearably. I'm fine for a bit, then out of nowhere I just breakdown. I think of the good times, the days on the baseball field. The end of Field of Dreams...
I think what I didn't expect in the grief process was the conflicting emotions. I expected to be sad. I didn't expect to be happy, and I am. I'm happy for our life. I'm happy for us. I'm happy for me and my family, and the lessons you've taught me about being a Dad. I'm happy for my relationship with Mom. I'm happy for my relationship with Ang. None of us is perfect, but we're learning to accept the not perfect about each other, realizing that's what makes us...us, and working through it.
Until then....Frostys up, and I love you, Dad.....Always.