Hindsight is 20/20, but that is so poignant for me just to think about it in relation to my dad.
As I have mentioned before on this website, my relationship with my dad wasn’t the best; transactional at best and flippant at worst but I’m grateful it was existent.
Growing up with the kind of Dad I had, I was more focused on NOT being him, as if he was JUST one thing rather than being better than him in his areas of strength and avoiding the flaws that tainted his armor and that, in retrospect, has become one of my biggest regrets.
In the few months leading to my dad’s demise, he was diagnosed with Dementia; that meant lucidity was a waning trait with every waking moment. There were days we could talk with him and crack jokes; he really had a great sense of humor and there were days where he would stare when I had gone to visit him either at his home or at the hospital and I would tell by the blank look on his face, he couldn’t recognize who I was.
Being in a big family allows you the privilege of having people around and what better place to hide than in a crowd? sadly it is in this crowds that also loneliness abounds. When my marriage was struggling, I sought help from very many sources; the church, counsellors, friends, books, Internet and even my mom. But in all these places I still longed to hear what my dad had to say about it.
On the day before my dad died, I had an appointment with an exterminator who was coming to my house to deal with a cockroach infestation and I remember my mum asking if I was going to see my dad on that day and I declined with a promise to do it the following day; Only to wake up the following morning with a house full of dead roaches but without a father.
I have run that scenario in my head like Dr. Strange did before the Avengers and the Guardians of the galaxy went up against Thanos, more times than I can count and there is no version of it that the decision I made come out as being sensible. Or am I being too harsh on myself?
I could have rescheduled the appointment with the exterminator, after all, the cockroaches weren’t going anywhere and even if I was not able to get THAT exterminator, I would have still found another one and maybe I would have spent that last day with him.
I now have very many questions and things I would have loved to have shared with him but… anyway, some of the things I wish I could talk to him about are like:
How do I deal with a failing relationship? He was married 4 times, so I’m guessing he would know a little about that. He used to say, “… wait until you marry them, that is when you will truly know them…” and we used to laugh at that but now I wish I could probe him further on that. What do I do now that I see her true colors? what do I do now that my true colors are also coming out?
How do I deal with Heartbreak? because there are as many books and blogs about heartbreak as there are about any other human emotion, but I would really have loved to hear what his opinion was. would he have recommended I walk it off? or would he have told me to be patient with myself and grow through it and use it to find out what matters to me and sort out my areas of weakness?
How do I show myself to my kids as being more than just a provider? George Bernard Shaw in his book, ‘Man and Superman’ claims that “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” From my prejudiced perspective, we weren’t any good at showing love in ways that we recognized but I know viscerally that he did love us in his own way and that means he would have something to chime in on that.
What does it mean to be a man? the world has very many definitions of what or who a man should be. We have seen men die on their white horses fighting a senseless war to maintain a standard that is worthless in the great scheme of things simply because they didn’t have that question answered for them. He might not have had the answer to that question, but his thoughts would have shed some light on the subject.
Do you know how much I love you? I am not sure if he was ever to be asked this question if he would have answered with some level of certainty? I did love him, in my own broken marred way, I truly loved him, but I never got the chance to tell him because maybe I thought I still had time, or I thought he already knew. But did he really know how much?
These are some of the questions that I will never have a chance to ask him, but they are questions that need to be answered nevertheless; so, my pursuit for their answers continues and I also make myself available to my daughters to answer the same questions or their equivalent even when they might not know when or how to ask.
I still didn’t know that he would be gone the next day, and as much as that is a fact it doesn’t make it hurt any less; even just writing about it makes me teary eyed but I have come to learn that time spent with loved ones is special – say you Love them as often as possible when they are alive.