Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Please to remember the twelfth of December

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?


Aileen said...

Not weird at all. I can relate to those feelings...My fiance died 11 years ago when he was 28. I think about how he would have been thrilled with the internet...I think about what it would have been like to grow up and mature with him.

I think when we lose someone, everyone expects us to get over it in time. So we don't get to talk about the person as much. And I think that time makes things better- but there is always a core pain.

One Crabapple said...

no it is not strange at all.

Especially as we get older...I think we will wish for that missing parent all the more to share things with and to compare life with.

I lost my mom.

It still hurts.

I am sorry you don't have your dad.

And reading your entry made me cry.

It is good that you shared though.

I wish you well and send healing thoughts as I hold out my hand.

Love S.

tlc illustration said...

That makes perfect sense. Loved ones who die seem to leave a permanent void - even if the pain eventually fades.

PG said...

Sooz, I am just the same. My dad died when I was 12 too, in autumn, then my Mum followed him a few months later on Christmas night (both deaths were unconnected, how unlucky is that?). That was 27 years ago, but not a week or even a day goes by without my missing them. It's just the silly things, like watching the Planet Earth nature dvd, and crying because I know how much my grumpy old dad would have loved it, even though he banned TV from the house. Wishing I could take my mum out for afternoon tea, wishing they knew that I made it as an artist, wishing they could meet Andy, wishing I had more of their belongings left and that I had time to know them properly. I actually envy people of my age who are lose their elderly parents, it sounds dreadful, but at least they have had time to be adult with them and emjoy them as friends as well as parents. So no, you're not silly. And I cry still because it never stops hurting.

tlawwife said...

What a nice way of honoring your dad. I can't imagine how hard that must have been for your mother. It is inconceivable to me. Sending you blessings today.

Terri /Tinker said...

Not strange at all. What a lovely tribute to his memory. Even though I got to have my mom as an adult, and it's been 8 years, I still miss her, but I do understand your point. If only life were fair; every child should have their parents at least till they're
grown-ups themselves.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog some time ago then I got back today and got really touched about your sharing of such an intimate thought. As I don't know you I hope I am not being undelicate i I leave you here some words from Walt Whitman I've always found precious:

What do you think has become of the young and old men? And what do you think has become of the women and children? They are alive and well somewhere, The smallest sprout shows there is really no death, And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it, And ceas'd the moment life appear'd. All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

tlc illustration said...

Hey absent Sooz. Miss you! Your blog misses you. Your blog readers miss you!

When do you take off for the holidays?

Rosa said...

How horrible. It is not strange at all. You were fortunate to have him as long as you did but I know you will always miss him.

Soozcat said...

I haven't had the chance to respond for some time--but just wanted to say thanks. You folks are all very kind and have had thoughtful things to say, and I'm touched.

I believe very strongly in the immortality of the human soul. I believe that those people we loved who have died do not cease to exist--that they are not gone for good, only gone ahead. It sustains me to consider that some day, when it's my time, I'll be reunited with Dad and the spirits of all the other people I loved. So I feel I need to conduct my life in such a way that he won't have reason to be disappointed with me when I see him again. (It also makes the prospect of death a little less scary, knowing that there will be people who love you waiting just that side of the veil.)

JessnBekahsmom said...

I have tears in my eyes. What a nice tribute to your dad! My mom died 1 1/2 years ago from Multiple Sclerosis. We knew it was coming. For ten years or so. She wanted to die, but it was still very hard. I don't think you ever really get over the death of someone close to you. And you always wonder what it would be like if things had gone differently. I lost my only brother at the age of twelve, also. What would life have been like with him in my life later? We can be comforted knowing we will see them in Heaven.

Wendy Jean said...

Thinking of you!