Happy Father's Day to all you dads, grandads, wannabe dads and spiritual dads out there. I have not had a dad to say "Happy Father's Day" to since I was nine-years-old. Truthfully, since I was eight, because he died the April I was nine. I don't remember at all any father's days previous to his death. I remember all sorts of great things about him and that's good, but it's been such a loss to me to not have parents as an adult. My mother died when I was 24 - before the end of a bad relationship, before I met Dave, before I became a quilter (which she would have loved), long before Grace, her namesake, came along. And while I'm now at the age when it would not necessarily be expected for me to have living parents, I still often feel compass-less.
Dad's death came on a slick highway on a rainy day in April. He was on his way to work. I remember Mrs. Williams calling me to the door of the classroom and telling me my mom needed me to come home because she had something to tell me. And there in the hallway was my aunt, whom I adored, fighting back tears and leading me to a waiting car, where we got in the backseat (no clue who was driving). My 16-year-old older brother was already there, his jaw set against showing emotion, his head bowed a little. He didn't look at me or anyone else.
The next week was filled with people, food and flowers. Those are the things that stand out most for me. The house was filled with family, neighbors, Daddy's work associates and golf buddies - lots of golf buddies. Our house smelled like Dave's Flowerland, which was the flower shop he often stopped at randomly on his way home from anywhere to buy Mom flowers. This was in the 1960s, before the use of the phrase "in lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation to..." became widespread. We ran out of surfaces to put arrangements on. They were all beautiful, and quite a number of them came from Dave's.
And the food!!!! It's no wonder I have food issues! Masses of fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, casseroles, hams, more fried chicken and every Jello salad known to humanity, with some new ones invented on the spot. Didn't know what to say to someone? Take a bite of pie. Want to avoid the visitors in the living room? Go to the kitchen and grab some pound cake.
I miss having parents; I wonder how I would have been a different person through the years. A little less lonely, I guess, definitely a little more normal-feeling. I'd have had somewhere to go, always: home. I spent a lot of holidays alone or feeling like an "extra" in someone else's house between Mom's death and my marriage.
I wish now that I could say, "Well, that's all in the past, no need to fret about it now." But it does affect me, in more ways than I like to admit. In a little while Grace and I will take Dave to lunch and give him his Father's Day gifts and have a great time. But part of me will be that 4th grader, wondering what in the world awaited me at home that morning and having no realization that a huge part of my childhood was about to come to an end in a living room of crying people.