Monday, November 20, 2017

Dad

Excerpt from chapter 21 - the protagonist has been reading her detailed horoscope chart:

It has not been possible to have a relationship with your father.  Perhaps he disappeared when you were young.

Tears welled up in her eyes.  Her father had died when she was seventeen and he was forty-nine, and she knew she had never really gotten over it. 

Fathers and daughters are complex enough in their relationship, she knew this, but she missed him everyday. 

Her father had a quick and ugly temper, and she had been on the receiving end of it a number of times as a younger child, but that all changed when she became a teenager.  They had developed a close relationship especially after he was diagnosed, for the second time, with cancer.  

After school her younger brother and sister would be out with their mother.  Her brother would be swimming, her sister babysitting, her mother driving them to and fro, and she and her father would sit in the living room talking about real things.  Often he would pour her a small glass of sherry and they would sit across from each other in the expansive living room. In large gatherings she would be snuggled up against him, but in these more intimate moments they chose to sit where they could really see each other as they talked. 

When he was very sick, blind and disfigured, he still would come out into the kitchen to meet her friends, and say hello and vet new boyfriends.  She loved him for that.  That he would put his pride aside to still be ‘the father’ in situations were ‘the father’ needed to show up. 

Often she would arrive home from school, her grade twelve year, and her mother and older sister would be in the kitchen, distraught and weeping.  He would have refused to eat all day, saying he just wanted to die.

She would gather the tray with the stewed prunes, and boiled egg, and walk into his bedroom.  He would be lying in the bed, on the left side, he had shared with her mother for thirty years.  He would be listening to the radio, eyes closed.

She would call his name softly.  “Dad?  Dad, you have to eat something.” 

And he would.  For her, he would eat. 

She would sit with him while he ate, and they would listen to the radio together.  They would joke about all the things he had won in radio contests.  Over the years she would carry this torch, entering and winning numerous items from local radio stations. 

Her mother had promised him he would die at home.  Ultimately, it was not a promise she could keep.  He had fallen one day and she couldn’t get him up.  He was moved to the veteran’s hospital.  Even there he stayed busy, hooking a pillow and making a pink elephant, both items she still had. 

She would read him the paper, sitting on the end of his bed.  She realized that she didn’t remember the last time she saw him.  Her mother wouldn’t let her or her younger brother and sister see him in the last weeks.  To this day it is something she regrets.  Not being able to say good-bye.
  
She remember once he told her and her mother that his Dad had been in to visit him.  His father had died twenty years before, so they all knew that he was close to crossing the veil and his father was there to guide him. 

And then, in the early morning hours of the first day of September, her mother had come downstairs to her room and told her he was gone.  She hadn’t known about “White Rabbit” then, but if she had it would not have made any difference. 

She wept and railed against a God that would do this to him, her siblings, her mother, to her.  She couldn’t comprehend what kind of God would take a young father of six children.  And then she put on her game face and went upstairs to support her mother through the wake, the funeral, the paperwork.

Her father’s death caused her to leave the church that she and her father had so loved.  She didn’t return to the church for twenty-three years, and when she did, it was to find him, not God, again.  

In her forties she was missing him so desperately that she legally added his surname as her middle name. 

By now the horoscope reading was forgotten.  Too many things in it just weren’t her.  She didn’t like change, she wasn’t adventurous, she wasn’t a braggart, she wasn’t artistic, she didn’t care for material things, she didn’t demand aesthetic surroundings.

But she did have a father who had left her far too early and it was a relationship that she could never have, at least not in this lifetime.

She thought, as she often did, how different her life might have been if he had lived.  Would she have dated the men she did?  Would she have married the man she did?  Would she continue to share her struggles with her father?  What advice would he have given her? 

He who had his own struggles with post traumatic stress disorder, although it wasn’t named that then. Shell shock.  That’s what her mother called it.

She imagined meeting him across the veil.  How disappointed would he be in her choices? 

Very disappointed in that to-do list for certain.

And her life?  This gift she had been given to age far beyond the age he had been graced with in this incarnation? Why wasn’t she valuing that for his sake, if not for any other reason. 

Grace. 

Living, with all of life’s struggles, was living in Grace. 

So, she had Grace.  She had her Faith.  All she needed now was Hope.

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