Saturday, March 14, 2009

Memories of My Dad

All day long, I kept thinking: Where did a decade go? I can't believe it's been 10 years since my father died.

I can still remember the day my mother called from Florida to tell me the news. I was extremely sad but not shocked because Dad had had Amyloidosis for 5 years, and during the latter 2 weeks of his life his condition had gone down hill speedily.

My father was a strong, quiet man. He loved his family but could be aloof with people he didn't know very well.

He loved playing tennis and watching western movies or tv shows. Mom still has a ton of old slides in her storage room from when Dad used to take pictures of holidays, birthday parties, and vacations. My parents would invite family and friends over and force them to watch an hour's worth of slides, placating them with cocktails and humerous conversation.

Our family took a trip all along the east coast of Canada. I don't remember it, though, because I was 4 or 5 at the time.

I do remember going to Texas and seeing the Alamo. ("Remember the Alamo" was the slogan, and I always have!) I remember my dad carrying me down into the Carlsbad Caverns in his strong arms. And, when I was a bit older (10 to 13), I remember Dad laughing at me for having my nose constantly in a book during our yearly drive to Florida.

I loved my dad, of this there is certainly no doubt. However, love is never just one-dimentional; it has many facets. In some ways we were a lot alike, in others ... not so much. We both demonstrated tendencies towards compulsive neatness and orderliness. We both shared a love of beauty and knowledge, curious about everything. And yet, my Dad had an introverted personality with some old-fashioned thoughts. I, who had my childhood in the Flower-Power, "All You Need is Love" 60's, and my teens in the women-liberating, war-protesting, sexual revolution 70's, sometimes disagreed with my father. I was young and fun-loving; I found my father to be way too cautious and pragmatic in his approach to life.

At one of the lowest parts of our relationship, my father said to me, "One day when I'm gone you'll miss me, Anne." I shook my head admantly, angry at him (I can't even remember why!) and thought: Never, never, never!

For the rest of my life I've regretted saying that to my father and hurting him like that. In the latter years, before his death, I tried to make amends, to get closer to him.

My father was right. He's gone, and I miss him. I wish he could see how well I'm doing.


1 comment:

Brenda said...

Hi Annie,

I really enjoy reading your blog. Your post today really struck a chord with me. It's been 15 years since I lost my Mom to colon cancer, but in some ways it still feels like last week. I wanted to encourage you to try and not feel too badly about the harsh words you had with your father. I used to feel the same way. After all, what kid hasn't at some point thought they hated their terrible parents (even if their parents were really great)? It wasn't until I became a Mom that I realized this wasn't as big a deal as I had thought. I've raised two teenagers (and have an 11 year old getting there quickly), and believe me, I've heard my share of "I hate you!" during a heated argument. The thing is...they don't mean it. Sure, the words may sting just a little at the moment they're spoken, but it only takes a moment to realize that these things are said in the heat of an argument, and I just know that my kids really do love me. I'm sure your father did too. Even though, for that one frustrated moment, you may have thought that you hated him - you really didn't. And he knew that. Just as I know that my kids don't mean it. I guess it's just the nature of the parent/child relationship. It's a power struggle from day one, and that means there is bound to be conflict. So, while I didn't know your father, and I only know you through your blog, I'm pretty sure that he knew how much you loved him, just as you know that he loved you. Life is too short to live with regret and guilt, so I would really encourage you to let this one go, if you can.

I'm hoping I can get down to St. Lawrence market one of these days to see your wonderful paintings in person (I'm in Scarborough). I'll be sure to say hi when I do!

Take care,