Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Love You Daddy

I was in a meeting this morning about our website and in the course of adding a task to my calendar, realized that it is April 7. Forty-six years since my father died one Palm Sunday night as he played with my baby sister Julia. I've been thinking a lot about him lately due to my sister Jane's upcoming article (see post below) about how our mother raised us on her own. 

My memories of my father are few because I was so young. The most vivid are of hearing the sound he made right before he died and kneeling next to his bed as the priest administered the last rights. He is a presence in my life at unexpected times. I look in a mirror and see the echos of his face in mine. I look at a photo of Dad as a young boy and see my son. I can trace some of my personality traits to him. I wish they were the better ones, but I'm not sure they are. I do not handle money well. That's one trait I wish I had from my mother. My father was a charmer. People loved  him. I'm not sure I got the Chesnutt family charm. My brother did and my children have it, especially my son. 

There have been times in my life when my anger at my father for dying on us is overwhelming. And there are times still when the grief is as fresh as if it had just happened. In the early 60s in small town Texas, there were no grief counselors. We just dealt with it the best we could. It was strange sometimes, being the only child I knew, aside from my siblings, whose father had died. We were the only members of a club that we didn't want to join. I felt set apart, different. I did fine with my friends' moms, but would barely speak to their dads. Dads were alien territory. Even as an adult, I've had a problem even acknowledging Father's Day exists. The anger again.

But through it all, I have always loved him. And even though he was not able to be a physical presence in my life, he has been there always. Because I carry him in my heart with me. 

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