I was in Target’s the other day buying things I really don’t need but that’s what is so great about Target. You pretty much can justify almost every purchase because it is so inexpensive. After my leisurely walk through the aisles I make a right turn to the card section to select a card for my dad. After a moment I felt a sharp intake of breath ; shock and horror set in immediately like an illness that comes on suddenly and wipes you out. I stop, stand still and I reach for the cart to steady myself. My father has been dead for ten years.
I don’t see his image in the streets anymore like I used to do for years after his death. Father’s Day, however, is something that is so ingrained in me that every single year I do the same exact thing. I go automatically to the Father’s Day section. I don’t have a father anymore and the realization from that is always new and it always hurts like a fresh wound. Moments of past misery hit me like a strong wave that pulls me under.
Every year on or around Father’s Day I go to the cemetery and put round white stones on his grave site. I clean off all the debris, pieces of dead brown leaves that crackle and fall apart, twigs, black soot from a harrowing winter and I clean things up a little. I bring a bouquet of flowers when I go. It’s the least I can do for a father who bought me a single red rose every year on my birthday. I talk to my dad at the cemetery and I weep. I weep in anticipation of getting there so my tears start rolling down my cheeks way before I have arrived. I park my car in the same spot, sometimes I will walk a few steps and then come back, go in the opposite direction and return quickly.
This year, as if a gift from heaven, my son’s High School graduation is on Father’s Day and that makes me extraordinarily happy. I feel, actually, I know, that my father will be with us at the celebration. He will be there in spirit with his family, seeing his grandson graduate. Maybe he will be in the soft breeze that blows, hidden in the colors of a rainbow, in the light of the raindrops that may shower us, or in the rays of the beaming sun nodding his approval, showcasing his pride. He will be there.
I know I won’t have lunch with my dad again, or be able to listen to one of his “educational talks” or laugh hysterically when he used to take the vacuum cleaner out when he thought company was staying too long. It’s not as if I can have one last hug from him or a kiss on the top of my head. I can imagine his soft hands but I can’t feel them anymore, but I carry him around with me in my heart forever.