Kaddish, In My Own Way

It’s the night before New Year’s Eve; almost 8 years ago plus a night that my father was proclaimed dead at 10:20 pm. In virtually 25 hours from now. I thought, perhaps, that I should write tomorrow instead of tonight, but I’ve learned the hard way that when you want to write just do it, because otherwise the thoughts and feelings will not be able to be resurrected. Funny word to use, resurrected. If only.

I miss my dad more than anyone will know. I miss his gentleness, his soft hands, his blue-gray eyes and his always reassuring smile. I miss him telling me “not to worry” and that it does get better with age. I miss having in my life and in my children’s lives.  More importantly, I miss him in my mother’s life because what she is without him, is not someone I really know.

I remember a time when my father was very depressed, clinically depressed and my mother became nasty, and angry and also very depressed.  I remember saying at the time that I felt “like I had lost my father and my mother.”  It wasn’t far from the truth and I’m sure not uncommon. But it was incredibly painful to be a child mourning two strangers, two parents.

I wrote earlier how I didn’t know my mother anymore; her nastiness, bitterness, anger.  I recognize this time of year for her, of course,  but I also do not know this woman I call “Mom.”  A once-gracious,  charming, likable and happy woman, that still can charm any stranger she meets; but, now, also a woman who holds the pettiest of grudges, all the time, and for all time.

My father was the ying to her yang, he was the soothing, gentle part of her that we knew and loved. Without him smoothing out the ripples, there would have been many more fights and disagreements, as they are now. I knew he played the game all along, but apparently my mother never knew that he listened to both sides of stories and adapted to each one, in order to have peace in the family.

There is a significant hole in my heart and soul that nothing can replace.  I miss my dad, because once you lose a parent, you are never, ever the same.  Not ever.  Maybe because my dad and I were so alike that missing him is so much harder for me. I’ve often said that he was the one that understood me, that could read me like a book, that we could know each others  thoughts or feelings in a second’s glance. He is not here anymore, nor will he ever be but sometimes I can see him in the actions and deeds of my son. He lives on in my son, his gentleness, his stubbornness, his capacity to love, his ability to read me as if I were made of glass.

My father was no saint. There were a lot of things he did that I did not understand or like. No one is perfect, no-one is expected to be. The reality of all this is while I mourn for my father, I am also mourning for a  mother who has become a stranger to me. I say the prayer for the dead, Kaddish, in my own way. I remember my father, I remember how much he meant to me and I give thanks for having him in my life for as long as I did. There are some people who never have had a dad in their lives, much less a good dad.

I pray that my mother will try and come back to who she was, at least with me. I hope that she can see that how she is acting is not doing her any good; only harm. So when I say good-bye to my dad tomorrow at 10:20 pm, I would love, at the same time, to be saying “hello” to my mother, a loving mother whom I seemed to have lost.

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