today my daddy died. Every once in a while -- most recently at a concert Saturday night -- I'll see an older man from the back, or from the side, who has his fine, white, flyaway hair or his thin, slightly bent figure, or the crinkles in his face that come from a wide smile, and I'll have to look twice, or three times. Just to be sure, y'know?
It was unexpected: he'd gone in for an angiogram, they'd found significant blockage, and left it to him to decide whether or not to have surgery. He had just turned 83. As it turned out, the blockage and damage from years of diabetes was more extensive than expected, and his heart wasn't strong enough to rally. He came out of surgery okay, but never regained full consciousness and died the next day.
I miss him, although that horrible grief and pain has been gone for a long time. And he would have made a terrible invalid. I miss his smile and his big, hearty laugh. I miss his sentimental tears when he'd watch a tv show that touched him. I miss sharing books with him.
I miss his singing. He always had a song for every situation, even if just a snatch of melody. Rachel grew up thinking that he'd made up just for her the old folk tune "Reuben, Reuben, I've Been Thinking.." -- the second verse is "Rachel, Rachel, I've been thinking..."
I miss that a lot.
So much has happened in these past eight years, and there have been many moments when I've felt him nearby -- especially when Mother was alive, and when she was so sick, I knew he was there beside her, beside us.
He was a good, caring, involved father and came to our concerts and plays and activities. He loved us deeply, and we knew it. He told me once that his father had never seen him on stage -- had never come to his games, his plays...sad.
He was proud of us, my brother and me, and who we are and what we do, and we knew that too. We were blessed to have him -- and my mother -- as parents.
I think you truly grow up when your parents die and the torch passes to you in the great wheel of life. Assuming a good relationship, you will never again have that unconditional love that is such an incredible bond between a parent and a child. (The love of a spouse can be utterly amazing and deep, and I am the most fortunate of women to have found that, thanks in no small part to my awareness and appreciation of my parents' lifelong love affair with each other. But that is different.)
So I'll light a candle for Daddy tonight and give thanks for his life. We loved him dearly. We miss him still.