This Father’s Day is going to be different for me. It’s the first time in 46 years that I haven’t had a Daddy here to celebrate.
My father passed away after a three year battle with cancer, on January 27, 2015, but it feels like only yesterday that he was still here. How is it possible that five months have passed when I think of him every day?
The reality of his passing hits in the most unexpected places. Just heating up the grill automatically brings me back to my dad. We always grilled out for Father’s Day, because his favorite food in the world was a “nice, juicy hamburger, hot off the grill.” I think of him the moment I smell the smoky scent of charcoal in the air and hear the sizzle of the burgers as they’re cooking. (And I’ll always think of him as I load my plate with more French fries than I should.)
I think of him whenever I get a funny or a political e-mail, and then my first thought is always, “Daddy will get such a kick out of this.” Then I’m crushed when I realize that he’s not here to get my messages any more.
I want to call him whenever I have good news, and I always have to think twice about calling him to let him know I got home safely. But I guess my guardian angel already knows that I’m safe.
I thought of him last month as my son graduated from the Fire Academy, and as my nephew graduated from high school. “Papa” was always encouraging them to do their best and to “Study hard!” Education was always so important to him, so it was hard on us for him to not be there to see how his guidance and support had led his grandsons to accomplish their goals.
I felt him last week when my husband and I went to the Georgia coast. Daddy had a little fish camp there. It’s nothing fancy, just a place where he could go and relax. As much as I love it, I was filled with dread at the thought of being there for the first time without him, knowing that there would be reminders of him everywhere. Even something as simple as finding his old sneakers sitting on the floor by the bed drove me to tears. One time, I asked him why he loved it so much, and he replied, “Because I fit in here.”
But, amazingly, this time something else happened there.
I found my peace.
To me, Daddy was everywhere because it was HIS favorite place. Sitting out on the dock at night, I could feel his kisses from heaven brushing against my cheek as the wind blew the salt air on my face.
And I smiled. Finally, I knew I was Daddy’s girl again.
Living without my dad has been a work in progress. I’m a work in progress, and being without him has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But I’m learning how to do it, because as he would say, “Life goes on. We’re only here for a little while, so make the most of it. Be a good person, and live your life well.”
This year, I will be spending Father’s Day without my dad.
But I know that my dad will be spending Father’s Day with his dad, and his Heavenly Father.
And as much as I miss him, I can’t be sad about that.