Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Memories of Dad

My dad died nine years ago tomorrow.  It was an accident.  It was unexpected.  It was a little surreal.  I hadn't seen him in exactly a year - when he and his wife had come out to California to visit us.  I had talked to him, exchanged emails and had offered to buy him a plane ticket to visit our newly born Lorelei.  But he kept putting me off saying he was going to get a ticket himself even though I knew they were seriously struggling financially.

Growing up I was Daddy's Girl, but in the end we did not always get along so well.  My parents started going through their divorce saga when I was a junior in college.  It wasn't a nice divorce, but they rarely are.  It was official a year or so later.

During our first Christmas after that, Dad and I got into an argument - it was about our family dynamic, but probably wasn't really my business.  I was mad and I guess he was mad, but it never occurred to me that we'd gone beyond a breaking point.  My birthday was two weeks later, I didn't hear from him.  I was hurt.  Two weeks after that I moved to a new state without saying goodbye.  I'm sure he was hurt.  The next thing you know 8 months had passed and I'd gotten engaged.  I sent him an email saying that our fight was stupid, I wanted to just move past it.  I told him I was engaged and I wanted him to be at my wedding.  He never responded.   

Again, I was hurt but I mailed an invitation to him.  I was out of the loop and didn't know he'd moved so he never got the invitation.  Somebody gave him the details because as I walked down the aisle I saw him there.  I started crying - I whispered to the minister to add his name to the parents portion of the speech.  He stayed around long enough to congratulate us, kiss me and appear in a photo.  That was it.

I didn't hear from him again for years.  We crossed paths at my grandfather's house one Christmas.  More years passed.  We ran into each other at an extended family beach trip.  He took me and my sisters out for dinner and told us he was getting married.  I ended up in the emergency room that night with gall stones.  He sat in the ER waiting room and drove me and my husband back to the beach condo when I was discharged.  The next day we drove back to our home in Florida where I had my gall bladder out.  Two months later we went to a reception in Nashville celebrating his recent marriage.

A month after that we moved to California and he asked if they could come visit us.  They came out in February 2001.  It was a nice visit, they were there for Valentine's day.  We had a nice celebratory dinner together.  That was the last time I saw him alive.  I have that nice visit to remember, but I still wonder what happened to us and it makes me mad that I will never know what he was thinking. It's even more puzzling since I've had children of my own.  I can't imagine ever just abandoning one of my girls even as an adult.

Despite it all, I miss him.  It makes me sad that he will never know my girls. 
Dad & Elgin, Pt Loma, Feb 2001

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