Happy Birthday Daddy
My dad would have been 64 today had it not been for his untimely passing 13 days ago.
I started writing this post a week or so ago and have erased the first couple of paragraphs two or three times simply because I pen a few words and then don’t know what to say, don’t like what I’ve said or just think it looks stupid as hell.
The last two weeks have been pretty difficult for me as well as the rest of my family, particularly my mother. The two of them have been together for the better part of 48 years except for his time overseas and occasional business trips. My parents, like myself (or vice versa), have never been huge social butterflies or anything along those lines. While they have friends, they are each other’s best friends. It’s pretty fucking hard to lose your best friend in life.
I suppose one of the reasons I am having a difficult time finding the right words is the fact that I haven’t really given myself time to grieve or work this out for myself and what it means for me. I’ve spent the last two weeks keeping busy and that’s it. I don’t really know how to grieve very well. I’m not a particularly emotional person, or at least I hide it well anyway. Messy emotions have no place in my little plan and tears get in the way. That makes for a pretty fucked up day when you just want to shed a few tears.
I think I’ll just ramble for a while. Stick around. Or not. I don’t really give a fuck.
Some of my favorite memories from my childhood were our camping trips. My dad, while not an avid outdoorsman, loved to go camping. They did it as children as well and he spent his childhood in the Boy Scouts, as did I. I can’t recall if he ever made Eagle Scout or not but if not he was pretty damned close. I think I remember him talking about the Explorers, so that would mean that he was an Eagle.
As I said, camping was a favored activity as a child. Since it was the four of us it was never serious backpacking but just having a good time at places like Stone Mountain, Amicalola Falls and Unicoi. One year we camped at Stone Mountain on Easter weekend. That was pretty fun. The park was different then than in recent years.
When I was ten my mom and dad took me to Disney World. That was my first trip there and a memory which I cherish. Back then it was only a few years old and the only park was the Magic Kingdom and you had the choice of three different places to stay unless you wanted a hotel in Orlando. We camped in the Fort Wilderness campsites, which is where I took the family in April 2009. I can remember sitting on the beach with my mom and dad watching the light show on the lake that they did at night. Utterly fantastic, particularly for a child of ten. I got the privilege of using their early 70’s Kodak Instamatic 110 during the trip and took all sorts of nonsensical pictures and maybe a few decent ones as well. I don’t have any of them but I plan on rectifying that son. I’m pretty sure my mom has some of them in photo albums I can scan.
One thing I never understood until the last few years is how much pride my dad took in his two sons. I seem to remember doing a lot of stupid shit as a kid and once I hit high school it only got worse. The proverbial black sheep, as it were. At one point in time they thought about sending me to live with my Great Aunt who had retired in Florida, but my other relatives down there wanted no part of my acting out so they had to choose other solutions which we won’t get into here. I didn’t involve duct tape though, thank goodness.
There are people who can make the right decisions automatically all through their lives and be very successful. I’m not one of them. Until the last few years I’ve made a lot of bad choices, tend to jump to instant decisions rather than weighing the consequences, just generally didn’t care at the time how my choices would play out in the lives of other people. We are after all the center of our own universes. Being the center of my own universe hasn’t changed much but I’ve learned from doing stupid shit. Learning from our mistakes and taking a different course of action is one of the things that makes us human I guess.
All the while I was making bad choices my father was unwavering in his love for me. I realize that now and I never had the opportunity to express that to him, which is now distressing me to no end. I only recall a couple of occasions where he would get really angry and I deserved it at the time. Mostly it was just concern and love and when I would eventually work my way out of the situation my parents were still there.
It’s hard to type when you can’t see the fucking keyboard through the mist.
This thing has been sitting on my computer most of the day today. I meant to finish the post but I think I’ll just put it up as is.