It’s “not too late” the ads claim, to do something, get something for Dad, for Father’s Day.
All week long, then 3 days, 2 days, all day Saturday, even on Sunday itself, “not too late”.
What about those of us with Dads who have passed away. Fathers who are now known as “The late Mr. ….”?
As a procrastinator I have pretty much pushed this last minute, not too late thing as far as it can go. Over the years it seems I have come to see due dates, deadlines, holidays, timelines as fairly fluid. Bills, thank you notes, birthday cards, graduation and all good wishes in my mind are not late, or forgotten. I have convinced myself that in the clutter of my life and the piles of my good intentions all these things are “in progress”. Some of that progress has collected quite a few inches of dust but still I think I will get around to it.
Over the years I have dealt with many consequences of putting things off. Late fees, last minute extra charges, disappointing others, self recrimination anxiety and the constant weight of all those things I keep meaning to do. These are the costs I have incurred.
This year I get to face the most painful consequence of all. It is definitely too late for me to let my Dad hear, read, or be gifted with expressions of what he means to me. No Hallmark greetings can get to him. It is too late to do all the things I kept saying we would do. It is too late to work together trying to make that perfect pie crust. We are not going to make it to that new outdoor farmer market place or, or, or, …
My mother is an anti-procrastinator. Dad died on a Friday. We had visitation at the funeral home on Sunday, buried him on Monday. As we were leaving the funeral home, the church, the cemetery, mom was gathering cards on flowers, getting names and addresses because she wrote thank you notes on Tuesday.
Six weeks later, I have managed only a couple of thank you notes. In fact there is this stack of envelopes addressed to me I have yet to finish opening. Somewhere in my procrastinating brain I know there lurks this idea that if I put it off long enough, don’t look at those cards or something it means that there is still time with Dad. It is not too late. He is not gone. He hasn't “passed”. He is not “late”. It is not too late. I can be with him today. I can finally get Father’s Day right.
In many ways like this I have been dealing with the sadness and pain and regret of being such a perfect procrastinator since Dad got sick and died. My heart has twisted a lot with remembering the opportunities I ignored, the stuff I let get in the way, all the things I meant to do, intended to say, planned to take care of. Regrets are not particularly helpful but they give the illusion that if I feel bad enough perhaps I can somehow change how the last few years with my Dad played out.
Of course living in the past with shame and regret really messes up the present and doesn’t do anything really about making things better. And while I know Dad was disappointed, wanting more and better times with me and my daughter he believed in not wasting a lot of time fantasizing “If I had only ….”.
It’s “never too late” say some. There is some truth to that but before I go there I need to make sure I recognize the pain and sadness of what I am now missing. Of how I made conscious choices to put things off, do something else. It is important to own my loss because it is telling me something about my Dad. He was always there. In fact I see now I took him for granted because he was always there. I know now I didn’t appreciate how good it was that he was always there, willing to answer a question, to cheer me on with whatever crazy scheme or idea I had in mind. I didn’t realize how nice it was to have him be glad just to see me, to thank me just for showing up or giving him a call.
He was always there. Like dad should be. Available and supportive as much as he could be. Lately I keep going to the phone to call him.
Father’s Day this year. Too late?.
Those last few months Dad had wanted to get into some meaningful conversations with me. He kept asking questions, thinking out loud about God and family stuff. I put him off. For a variety of reasons I was really cranky and just didn’t want to talk with him.
When finally we knew Dad was dying any minute he spent his last few days, hours, minutes of strength and coherence having some important conversations with many of his grandchildren, great grandchildren, old friends, other family members. Part of me was very envious of them all because I knew then he had tried to have those conversations with me just a few weeks earlier and I had turned away from him.
It is too late to sit with him for the conversation he wanted. He is not here to read any Hallmark card I might send no matter how close to the calendar Father’s Day I could get it.
So, this sort of rambling on and on will have to suffice. This will have to be my Greeting Card to him.
Writing. I have always liked to write. Way back in the day when I was off doing young adult things Dad and I had quite a letter conversation we kept up. In my various jobs I have written different sorts of things and Dad would read them and appreciate them. If I got sentimental and sappy in a greeting card or sorry I missed your birthday sort of note he would get a little teary and sentimental himself.
He liked the “philosophy” he would see in tidbits of my writing. Recently he rediscovered an old fundraising cookbook I had put together with some folks in Arkansas 35 years ago. In between the recipes I had written Scriptures and my reflections, some short prayer poems, and other little snippets. He loved it. I loved it too because I always thought I’d written pretty good stuff.
I can see him, hear him liking this whole blog thing I am trying to do now. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time and of course, had not gotten around to it. I wish I’d done it in time for him to tell me what a great writer I am.
Wonderful or not. I will continue to write and think of him. In honor of him and the good stuff his daddy’s eyes saw in me, his little girl/grown up daughter I will spend some time just writing.
I hope anyone who might read my written words will find their own ways of reminding themselves that they are loved by someone important whether or not that person is present here or has passed away. I hope they will do it now as soon as possible whatever day it is.
Too late for Father’s Day? Dad, I love you. I really miss you.