Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Father’s Day Blues

photo courtesy of freejazzlessons.com


I spent most of Father’s Day putting out flowers for my mother. And not because my mother is the father-figure in my life. We’re just late planting this year. Since my mother is no long able to plant, I plant flowers for her on the side of the house so that when she looks out the window, she can see something beautiful.
It was me, the dirt and my thoughts on this early Sunday morning. The hot sun heating up my back as I worked.  And since it was Father’s Day, I thought a lot about my father as I sifted the earth between my fingers. My father died more than 20 years ago. And I still miss his presence in my life. I dug into the recesses of my mind of memories of my father—the man I called “Daddy”.

Though I spent time with my father, I can’t say that I knew my father well. Unlike my siblings who lived in the house with my father pre divorce, I don’t have Daddy stories of him being at home.  My stories are scattered across the landscape of my mind: the time I ate the foam from the top of his car; him taking me to buy a bed and a TV; going fishing and catching his fishing rod in a tree.  What I remember most about my father was his easy-going nature. He was slow to smile not because he was angry, but because he liked to take his time.
My parents divorced. My father remarried, and my siblings and I did not interact much with his side of the family. When he passed away, that pretty much ended what little interaction we had. I only saw my father when he came to visit. Sometimes he would come by the house and other times he would take me and my oldest niece out. I guess we were a package deal because when her father picked her up, I tagged along, too.

His death was incredibly hard. I mourned what we had, and what we would never have. I grieved because I had never known a pain that could cut so deep.  My heart hemorrhaged the day of his funeral and I fainted. No one that close to me had died.  Three of my four grandparents were deceased by the time I was born, and my paternal grandmother and an older brother died when I was too young to understand death. But I was fully grown by the time my father left this world and took a piece of me with him.
Father’s Day was the only holiday I actually spent with my father. My sisters and I would get food and gifts and hang out at his house. So, between my aunt’s funeral and the holiday, I was doing quite a bit of reflecting.  You see, last weekend, I sat in a church full of people singing the praises of a woman I didn’t know, but should have. She was my father’s only living sibling and my aunt.  I had not seen her since his funeral.

I had actually thought about my aunt from time to time over the years because she could have filled in some of the missing pieces about my father. But I never reached out—not because I didn’t want to, I just forgot, and time got away from me. I didn’t even know she was sick. I found out she died when my cousin posted the funeral arrangements on my timeline on Facebook.

The ache from his absence will never go away. But I am forever grateful for the time I had with him. And I know that he’s with me every day. I have his same easy-going nature (most of the time), and when I look at my hands I see his—the oval shaped nails and the visible green veins running through my hands. Because of my father I was able to go to under grad without any student loans because he paid for my tuition at a private university.


So, yea Father’s Day gives me the Blues, but only because I’m missin’ a man I know loved me—My Daddy.

10 comments:

  1. Great post. Thanks.

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  3. Beautiful Ms Gates and a heartfelt story

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    1. Thank you. I try to write from the heart.

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  4. Wonderful story Stephenie, good to know you can get those hands dirty... so well rounded🖒

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  5. Wonderful story Stephenie, good to know you can get those hands dirty... so well rounded🖒

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  6. jennifer brown banksJune 22, 2016 at 3:50 PM

    Deep and meaningful. I believe he would be proud:-)

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    1. Thank you. I hope he's looking down and smiling.

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