Just One More Hug

Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

Screenshot from a public domain film The Littl...

Screenshot from a public domain film The Little Princess (1939) starring Shirley Temple and Richard Greene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today would have been my dad’s 90th birthday, he died eleven years ago. I guarantee you it will not be an easy day or night for any of us. I’m trying to use this day to remind me of what a wonderful father he was, how he loved birthdays and presents and food and more food and little presents that cost less than a few dollars which we called “shmonsas.”

I miss him, those feelings stab at my heart and reopen wounds I thought had healed. Apparently, there is no complete healing from death and pain.  Since we have talked about my dad lately I feel the pain, as if it was fresh, wounds ripped open, knives sharpened and stabbing pain. Tears are spilling down my eyes, in the catch of my voice.

Of all times, the day before his birthday I found myself making his favorite, home-made pea soup.  I hadn’t even realized that his birthday was coming up because I was focusing only on 11/11 my favorite day and time. That meant today was 11/12 and I realized my husband and I are having dinner with my mom on Wednesday, not even conscious that Wednesday, 11/13 was my dad’s birthday. The world works in strange ways, I still believe there is a reason for everything.

Every Saturday morning when I was a child, my dad and I would watch Shirley Temple movies together, just the two of us. He would take his finger and wipe his eyes quickly and I once asked him if he was crying. He told me he had allergies but soon enough I learned the truth. Every week, another Shirley Temple movie, The Little Princess, Curly Top etc. was on. Saturday mornings were very special for me and my dad.

When I was older we would get bagels which was not technically stealing since the store was not open and once he and I got off the tram in Austria to buy bratwurst thick with golden brown mustard and rolls and left my mother and sister on the tram-car (not realizing they had no idea where they were and that we were gone.) As sorry as we were, he and I still held unto our sides remembering my mother’s fuming face, nostrils flaring. Luckily, he was the one who got in trouble, not me.

We would all go to Pathmark grocery shopping while I still lived at home and we would put ridiculous sized items in the cart while the other person wasn’t looking, 5 gallons of pickles, 10 gallons of ketchup, we thought we were hilarious. Sometimes someone had opened up a bag of cookies (No, it was not us) but we would help ourselves to samples. Once when my mother was away ( working) we went to a Spanish restaurant and got a little tipsy on Sangria, toasting wall paper hangers that did not show up. My kids will be shocked to hear this!  Another time, I was driving home from my married life in Boston, pregnant with my first child and he had come down as a surprise to direct traffic wearing an orange helmet with a bright orange sign with my name and arrows so that I wouldn’t get lost. If I had one sentence to describe him, it would be that one. When there were mice crawling over my bed and feet in my apartment he would pick me up and bring me “home.” Nothing was too much.

My mom, my husband and I will eat dinner at a restaurant and try to celebrate his life instead of mourning it.  I thought I might want to put a candle on my dessert for him but I can’t kid myself, I’d burst into tears before it even came. I think I’ll just say my own few words, privately. He was a wonderful father to both my sister and me: nurturing, warm, supportive. I still miss his warm hugs the most, a true loss. Prone to educational talks that were a bit too lengthy what would I do now to hear one again. I could count on to him to at least understand my side even if we didn’t agree, it’s been so long, eleven years, that I can’t even remember what that feels like anymore. We were so similar, he and I, my mother and my sister, exactly alike.

He has sent me messages from the other side except for a brief interruption which was partially my fault but now those messages will be back. I am sure of it. In fact, I just found an angel that I completely forgot about and now she is hanging happily from my crisp, new bulletin board. There are no more words, except to say, Daddy, I love you, I miss you, I’ll always miss the dad that you were to me. I miss your bear hugs where I knew I felt so loved and safe. I miss you being in my corner supporting me. I will never stop missing that. Happy Birthday, Daddy. Love, from “The Little One.(8)”

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Plinky Prompt: Which Holiday Would You Rather Skip?

  • Holidays
  • Just Say Good-Night
    new year’s eve merch New Year’s Eve.
    I never liked New Year’s Eve, EVER. I guess not liking alcohol is part of it but it always seemed so forced to me, so fake. Then, when my dad died on New Year’s Eve, eleven years ago, that definitely sealed the deal. Sometimes my husband and I will stay up to midnight and watch the ball drop on tv, and toast to a better year (every year.) If I had my way I would nestle under the covers at around ten-thirty pm and wake up the next year just as happy. I stay up till midnight if it’s important to my husband, if not, nighty-night.

Playing Archery In The Dark, Buck Naked

Cover pain

Cover pain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just kidding. I’m about to emote and perhaps complain and I thought it was a catchy title which somehow worked it’s way inside my brain out of nowhere. It’s the evening of the fourth of the July and I am feeling lonely and uncomfortable. The high point of my day is hearing the thunderstorms outside. It’s hot, about 80 percent humidity and I feel like an old woman with my joints (not THOSE kind of joints) swollen and my muscles tense and painful.

I know my fellow Fibromyalgia mates feel the same way but it doesn’t make me feel better. Everything hurts, I can barely stand up without extreme effort. I am in pain both physically and emotionally.

I think I hate holidays more than I ever have. I used to love them when the children were young and when my dad was alive and when my sister and I used to get along better. Now? They are just a painful reminder of all that I don’t have. Holidays seem to bring the worst out of everybody, senses over stimulated, emotions seem raw.

I have a sister who seems like she is just a few miles from estranged, we talk once in a while but we can never agree or love each other for who we are. It’s a shame, I know, but our history is not in our favor. We try to keep it together for our mother. It works both ways. It just reaffirms everything we are not.

I miss our dad who has been dead for a very long time. He loved this holiday, he would swing a fake pointer and pretend to be the orchestra conductor; the Macy’s Fireworks would light up his bedroom concert hall. I couldn’t even watch it on television this year, it made me too sad.

Time moves on, I can accept not liking certain holidays. I know that both my children are leaving for college in the fall. I know I am not young anymore and that my chin droops from where I have lost weight.

I am grateful for what I do have: a loving husband, two great kids, a crazy puppy, my mom and plenty of friends that I trust and rely on. One can’t have everything. A friend suggested I copy this to remember:

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

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.