The last 5 years have left me particularly silent about the subject of my Dad’s passing.
Despite my quietude, I can assure you there was no silence when it came to the grief in my heart or the pain that found its way into my writing. I have filled more pages than I care to. Recently I have been thinking of some of my closest friends (many of whom are in their late twenties and early thirties) and as time dawns on us all, I realize that the most loving gift I can give to them is to talk of the very thing that has robbed me of so much of joy for the purpose of encouraging those who are fortunate enough to have their Dad still in their life, to spend time with him. I would be no friend of yours if I didn’t implore you to take advantage of that time. This is a realm I know all too well and whilst many of us have the opportunity to alter a course we have been heading down, ultimately it is my hope that yours does not lead to the utterance of these shrill words…
“I wish I spent more time with my Dad.”
There is no universal relationship of fatherhood; some are more like friends, some are non-existent, some are disavowing looks and disappointment, while others are a heavy hand, or piercing words, or even the most gentle caress and so and so forth leading us to an infinite combination of these archetypes. Regardless, that lineage defines us and teaches us about ourselves in more ways than we often care to admit. It defines where we come from and many times what dispositions we have. It can often shape our relationship with our significant others, our friends, and our family (for better or worse). Sometimes it is the origin of our self-esteem and sometimes it is the origin of a lack of confidence. Still other times it is our barometer of what “Love” is… or isn’t. In any case, If you are fortunate enough, spend time with your Dad. Do those things you’ve been talking about for years. You know which ones I’m talking about. The ones that bring him joy. Or better yet, do nothing. Sit there with him and decide at that moment that you will ask every question that has ever burned inside your heart. Fire away, ask questions about him, you, your family, anything, everything. Learn him, of him, and ultimately of you. Once he is gone, there are no more questions he can answer.
Do it now. Don’t wait.
There is wisdom in his years far beyond what you think you know. And as different as you think you are from him, get to know the actual man behind your Father. Do it now. Don’t wait. Make a list of questions you have always wanted to know. Ask him about things you have NEVER talked about and let your heart be like a sponge that soaks up every smile, the sound of his laughter, the strength in his silence, the peculiarity of his regiment, and the understated knowledge that you will undoubtedly discover in his years. Tell him things you have always wanted to and encourage him to do the same.
Do all of this and more with no end goal in mind, not being after any particular “outcome” other than the quiet satisfaction that when that untimely moment comes, and he is gone, his absence is not replaced by the presence of regret and a longing to have said, done, experienced, talked, fought, played, cried, shared, more. I force these things out from the deepest part of my soul with a dual emotion and ask that you please take heed of these words that come from a man that has seen the other side of this coin.