Over the past while my dad has been flashing through my mind in surprising ways that emotionally catch me off guard. Images of him as an old man in a care home and he's calling for help and no one is coming. Images of him seeing my strengths and desires and supporting them by encouraging me forward in those directions. Images of his personal strength in weakness and his care for me, even in his last week. I don't know why they are circling around me now, but they are.
We all need a dad who loves us, whatever that love looks like. We need his protection and support and his prayers. We need his example of how to live. We need him watching out for us.
Funny, I do most of these things for my kids without making a mental decision to do so. I may not always love them like they would like me to love them, I don't know. But I do.
For whatever reason, I just really miss that. And him.
And I go looking for him in my memory, and I connect with places we've shared and a few of the times I felt connected with him.
Maybe I just miss him is all. Maybe I miss his wisdom and his input. Maybe I miss watching him getting old, see how he would do it.
I'm getting closer to the age he was when life was getting difficult and a long illness eventually took his life. I sometimes wonder how I'll live without his example, in those later years.
Sometimes I wonder.
Those Winter Sundays
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?
Robert Hayden (1913-1980)