I had always sympathized with my friends who had lost their Fathers. I simply could not fathom that type of grief; that tremendous loss. Now, I was one of them.
I lost my Daddy this past Thanksgiving. He was the first man I ever loved.
Over the past 7 months, I still have those days where I do not want to be here. My body physically aches at the void. I used to say to my friends, “Gosh, if I ever lost my parents, I simply could not live on.” Losing my parents was my biggest fear. And now, here I am, having to face that demon.
My Dad was my hero in every sense of the word. He’d served his country in the United States Air Force for 28 years, at one point, he was the youngest person in the Air Force ever promoted to full-bird Colonel. How cool is that? He provided for my Mom and I, and my two brothers. We could always depend on him. He was gone the first year of my life in Vietnam, but my Mom said the day we went to the flight line to welcome him home, I reached for him as if he never went away.
In later years, he’d undergone triple bypass surgery, and an odd case of a bit of TB that was never caught, that had been encapsulized and caught in an Xray, that he probably got from one of his tours in Vietnam. He was diagnosed fairly late in life with Multiple Sclerosis, but it never slowed him down. He worked the 4 acres of land that my parents house sat on in Montana, up until the day he died.
He never complained. He pressed on. That was one of my favorite things he would say to us kids when we’d run into obstacles in life, “let’s press on.”
I’m not sure Daddy took his own advice 3 years ago, when my brother died in his sleep at just 45. His first-born son, his namesake, was gone. For someone in his fragile state, the loss of a child is devastating. He pressed on with his amazing faith and held our grief-stricken family together as per usual. I think I knew in my heart that this would be the “end” for my Dad.
I will miss everything about him. His smile, his humor, his advice, his love for me, his love for my brother, and of course, my beautiful Mother. They were just shy of celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary by one month, when God called him home. As far as my Mom is concerned, they made it to 50 years, and will forever be married. She is amazing and strong.
I used to hate the freckles I had all over my arms and legs, but last week as the sun shone on my arms, it revealed to me the one thing I hadn’t considered: my coloring was exactly like my Dad’s. And I could keep a part of him with me now.
On this “first” Father’s Day, I know it will be a rough day not only for me, but for millions like me, who mourn the void of losing a Dad. There’s a special bond born upon us the day we lost half of our hearts, right?
For those of you who are fatherless, or have lost your Fathers, I grieve alongside you this Sunday. But, we must “press on”… for Dad.