Well, today is the day. I usually let it go by without comment, but for some reason our culture considers 25-year anniversaries to be significant. And it's been a long enough time now that I don't ache or cry; it's just a quiet, numb sort of remembrance.
25 years ago tonight, my brothers and sisters and I were sitting on the living room floor, watching Christmas cartoons on TV. It was a Saturday night. Christmas was coming, my grandparents from Indiana were coming to visit, Mom was making dinner, and we were waiting for Dad to get home from his in-betweener job of painting Christmas windows for businesses. The phone rang, but none of us moved to answer it -- since Dad ran a graphic design business from our home, it was usually for him or Mom. So Mom got the phone. None of us heard what she said, or saw how she gripped the counter, how she stood there for a minute after she'd hung up, silently praying for strength to do what had to be done.
We did notice when she came into the living room and turned off the TV. Loud protests, in fact. Then Mom sat down on the piano bench and said, "Please listen to me. This is probably the hardest thing I will ever have to tell you."
Then she told us that on the way home, Dad had been killed in a car accident.
I was twelve years old when my father died. I've lived more than twice as many years without him as with him in my life. I do feel fortunate that I was old enough that I still have clear memories of Dad. I have an idea of his face, his personality, his likes and dislikes, the various expressions of his voice. My youngest sisters don't have that, and I know I should be grateful for what I have. But there's one thing I still miss, even 25 years on. I miss the opportunity of getting to know him as an adult. I've come to know my mother, adult to adult as well as mother to child, and it's a good relationship. I don't have that with my dad. I can't ask him for pointers about how to get my calligraphy straight, or show him my goofy little origami cards, or even pop by with a DVD copy of That's Entertainment and watch it with him (how he would have loved the technology allowing him to see movies whenever he wanted -- the VCR was just coming onto the market when he died, and he was hungry for one).
That's what I miss: not being able to be a fellow grownup with my dad. Is that strange?