Cafe de Desiree

June 15, 2017

Father’s Day: Remembering

Filed under: family,grief — desi83 @ 7:02 am
Tags: , , ,

It’s not Father’s Day yet, but Facebook posts and television ads are already celebrating it. Every year that I’ve been able, I’ve taken my dad to lunch to his favorite restaurant for Father’s Day. For the past few years, it’s been Blue Cactus. He ordered the Mexican Summer Salmon every time. My dad was a creature of habit. He also didn’t like a lot of noise or crowds, being the introvert that he was. So, it was a nice, quiet place that served a consistently good meal. I always drove when we went anywhere, and I’m not sure how or when that started. I guess it has been ever since he moved back to Tennessee. He lost his job in Chicago, and it was a mixture of a disappointment and a relief for my dad. He was a functioning, lonely alcoholic out there. He had friends at work, but he had no one in his personal life. When he came home, he had me as well as his siblings and his mom. He quit drinking after a long battle and got a job as a janitor at a warehouse. It was easy work aside from having to walk all over the enormous warehouse. He gained a lot of weight when he first moved in with me because he drank so much and didn’t move except when he absolutely had to. When he quit drinking, he started learning how to cook some pretty impressive (and healthy) meals. Between the healthy meals and the walking, he shed 60 pounds. Yet, all the sudden he seemed so much older, weaker, and tired. He complained about his ankles being swollen. I didn’t know at the time that it was a sign of heart disease. I kept nagging him to get a check-up because I did have a feeling that something might be wrong, but he never went until it was too late.

Last Father’s Day, Dad and I went to Blue Cactus, and he ordered his Mexican Summer Salmon. We went to the park afterward, because hiking is something that we used to do together. I knew he wasn’t in the shape for hiking, but I thought a walk in the park would be possible. He was out of breath after we walked less than a quarter of a mile. I struggled to walk slowly enough to match his pace as it was. He assured me that he was fine, that he was just worn out from work. He said that he needed to try the early shift instead of the evening. This was the man who hiked the trail in Maui with me, which included hiking through creeks, swing bridges, and pathways only as wide as one shoe. We hiked Fiery Gizzard, one of the most difficult trails in Tennessee, and we hiked the Smokey Mountains together. He did those hikes with a cigarette in his mouth the whole time, and he didn’t have to stop to catch his breath. Years later, my dad was dying, and I didn’t know it.

We went to Blue Cactus a month before he went to the hospital. He ordered the gumbo because he said that his stomach had been bothering him. He didn’t have much of an appetite. He bought new shoes in hopes that his knees and feet wouldn’t be so sore. Maybe his ankles would stop swelling. I was so busy with my new job that I only talked to him every two or three weeks in the months leading up to his death. I have so many regrets. But I also have wonderful memories of him.

I loved my dad with all of my heart, and the day that he passed, my heart was broken. It was a feeling that I had never experienced. No broken relationship or rejection could remotely compare to that heart break. Regret, anger, blame, and grief all worked together to crush my heart when I lost him. I have been trying to get past all of that since December 30th, and I try to focus on the good memories. My dad loved me, and he always made time for me, even when he worked hundreds of miles away. We traveled together, hiked, cooked, and spent time with his family. He always asked about me and told me that he was proud of me. He was very honest with me, sometimes to a fault. Our relationship wasn’t perfect, but it was meaningful and I’m glad that I was there for him at the end. He was a good man who worked hard and loved his family. He was always generous to everyone around him. He was definitely there for me anytime that I needed him, and I hope that I was there for him enough.  I will miss him on this first Father’s Day without him. I already made it through his first birthday since his passing. I hope that these events will get easier with time. Until then, I can remember the good times that we shared.

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