Here it comes again…the holiday I’ve come to loathe.
“I find I’m cry-y-y-y-in’ over you
I know it’s not the thing to do-o-o-o-
Now I’m on my own, I walk alone
A heart without a home
Here it comes again, that feeling
Here it comes again…”
The song’s about romantic love, but I think it fits. Tomorrow will be the second Father’s Day that I will have to endure without my father, and I have to say, it sucks.
I used to like Father’s Day. My Dad, ever the easy-going guy, wanted very little for his big day: a few meaningful cards, maybe a brunch or BBQ, he really didn’t care what or where. The thing my Dad wanted to do on Father’s Day was watch golf. Yep, that simple.
Dave Barry, in his book “I’ll Mature When I’m Dead,” writes this, and I think it pretty much sums up the difference between Mothers and Fathers: when your Mom says she doesn’t want anything for Mother’s Day, she really means that she wants something special, something just for her, probably some useless tchotchke that she can treasure forever. When your Dad says he doesn’t want anything special for Father’s Day, he means that you (the family) should go out to dinner without him so he can lay on the couch and watch tv. I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point.
That was my Dad. I think he allowed me, his only daughter, to make a fuss just to make ME happy; he didn’t need it, but he knew I would never accept not doing anything for him, so he graciously accepted whatever invitation I made. Then, after he figured he’d stayed long enough, he would say something along the lines of: Patti, thank you so much, this was really nice, but my back hurts so I’m just gonna go home and sit in my chair and watch golf. And that’d be it; I was happy that I’d feted him, and he was happy that it was over. Easy. Simple. Perfect.
Today I went into Target and noticed a group of people over at the card section. What’s going on? I wondered before it hit me: Father’s Day. Ugh. Oh yeah. Shit.
I used to love picking out his cards; unlike some people who shall remain nameless, my Dad was fun to shop for. I usually read each and every card before picking the absolute best one, and I always teared up. I would pick up a card and it would be so poignant, so touching, that I’d quickly put it back before I became a blubbering idiot. Sometimes, I didn’t get it back in time. Embarrassing to be crying in Target? Sure, but what could I do? My Dad was my hero.
When I was a little girl, I would wait for my Dad to come home from work, run out the door, down the driveway and veritably throw myself at the poor, tired man. I was happy to see him every. single. time. Once, when my class went on a field trip to Philadelphia (which was a big deal since we lived in Central Jersey), we were standing in line when who should I spy walking down the street but my father. What the What?! He was working in Philly back then, and knew we’d be around somewhere, so he figured he’d take a chance. My heart leapt when I saw him.
Yep, right there, in front of Independence Hall.
He did that on more than one occasion; he had a knack for being able to find me if he went searching (which wasn’t always a good thing, as I got older). I could find him, too. Once, we went to a Mets game in Philly (yes, not a Phillies game, a Mets game) and we didn’t know where each other was sitting (he was with my brother and I was with my son, tickets bought separately). Sitting over right field, I peered through my binoculars and, one minute later, said “there’s Grandpa,” over by first base. And that, my friends, is not easy.
My father taught me how to throw a ball, hit a home run, make a play. He took me to as many places as we could afford, walked me down the aisle, made me laugh and cry. I refused to let them sing “Daddy’s Little Girl” as our Dad-Bride dance at my wedding because that song made me cry so much, I just didn’t want to be blubbering, what with the fancy make-up and dress and all that. My Dad helped me buy my first house after the divorce, and taught my son how to be a gentleman. And so much more.
Now, I drive the last car my Dad ever had and I talk to him in there because I truly believe that if he’s anywhere, he’s in there. I’ve had several really weird things happen during the last year and a half which make me think I may be right. But how can we know, really, where they go? We scattered my Dad’s ashes into the Atlantic Ocean and I guess that’s where he “is” but who the hell knows? It’s a mystery, like so many things in life.
Tomorrow, my brother, his daughter and my son will honor my Dad’s memory by going to visit my other brother, Kenny, who lives in Hunterdon Developmental Center in Clinton, NJ. My Dad had taken to going there on Father’s Day in his last few years, crying every time. On the way back, we always stopped at the same restaurant for lunch, and tomorrow we will go there, too. It’s what we do now, and we’re sure he’d approve.
This is my Dad. I didn’t know him as a Navy man, but I sure heard some stories. This is how I like to remember him, handsome and young and healthy–the world ripe for the taking and he ready to take it on. He had a good life–if fractured, but don’t we all–and he leaves behind people who love and miss him very much. But no one, I truly believe, as much as I do.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy…with love from your little girl.