Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Dad

March 1st usually sneaks up on me. To be fair, any time it is a new month, it doesn't normally register anything for me. That's why I never have any good pranks for April Fool's Day. My brain doesn't grasp it is even April until halfway through the day and then it clicks after that that I could have pulled off some great trick on an idiot. But I need more than a mere few hours to get into a rubber suit. This has already gotten off the rails.

March 1st usually sneaks up on me. It's again, about halfway through the day that I realize it's March and then that's when it sinks in. My dad died on March 1st and so it has been a certain amount of years since he's been gone.

When I realize this anniversary, I don't give more than a few cursory thoughts about it. I think about how it's been so long since he's been gone. I've lived more of my life without him that I did with him. It's been many years since I can remember how his voice. In fact, it was not even that long after he died that it faded into the mists. It was surprising how quickly it happened. The best I can do is half imagine him shouting and the way he kind of did it. Don't get me wrong, he didn't yell very much at all, but that's all I can recall. I can't even tell you anything he told me specifically.

That's not entirely true. There is one phrase that I remember and I will always remember. When I was mischievous little rapscallion, he'd always call me a "turkey-faced sheep". He never varied that phrase. I don't even know how he came up with it. It wasn't from TV or movies or anything. Nonetheless, that was his go to identifier for me. I was used to it as anyone who grows up with a repeated phrase and I didn't reflect on it until one day after him calling me that for 11 years (I assume the first time he would've called me that was when I was a toddler and I straight up stole his glass of clamato juice and downed it right in front of him before he could react in an act where I tried to establish my dominance). One day, he called me a turkey-faced sheep, as was tradition, but then he paused and said, "A turkey-faced sheep would look pretty weird." WHAT?! He didn't even know what he was saying all these years? What farce is this? Yeah, Les, that is pretty weird. I don't know what about me specifically invoked the idea of a sheep with the face of the ugliest bird in the world.

I don't haven't really thought about my dad too much in the past several years. I mean my life is so vastly different than when I knew him. There's no context to bring about memories of him in my world.

The thing that has struck me though over the years is just how prominent my dad was in my life. He was retired by the time I was 5 and so it was like I had a grandpa that lived in my house. In the summers, we'd go on these hour long walks around the town in the morning a few times a week. He was the first person that I would talk about all sorts of things. He told me things I don't know if he told anybody else in the world. When people would ask me who my best friend was in high school, I would say one of my friends who I spent much of my time with. However, I've discovered in my reflection of my time in Minnedosa, that truly, it was my dad who was my best friend. I knew him and he knew me.

I've also become aware of how rare of a relationship I had with my dad. Some people never had a strong father figure in the life or if they did, they had a job and they would have limited time with their kids. For me, my dad gave me so much time. We'd watch tv together and talk and he'd tell me stories. He was still an authority figure and I still treated him that way, but I could reason with him and converse with him.

I have been asked in the past about what made my dad such a great dad and at first, I didn't have a great response. I wouldn't say that he had any special parenting tricks. It wasn't like he had amazing spiritual insight since he never really went to church until his late 40's. He had trouble connecting with my brother. I concluded that why I respected him so much was that time I had with him. That's the only tip I have for parenting. It's time.

I feel like I've done generally okay without him in my life since he died when I was 15. Like I have food and can pay rent on my own. Sure, it would've been nice for him to have been able to teach me how to drive standard or talk about how to avoid the financial pitfalls my parents fell into. I've had to essentially find out for myself.

That's why March 1st usually sneaks up on me. I've been able to operate without his help as an adult and so I am not missing that element in my life.

This March 1st was different. I knew it was coming. Not because my calendar is calibrated to do a morbid countdown. I knew it was coming because I've been thinking about dad a lot lately and how I need him right now. Every time I wish I could talk to him about something, I'm reminded about the loss March brought about in my life.

I currently find myself in one of the darkest places I've ever been in. I don't have great solutions. All my options are going to be awful. I've never had before. I've been in situations that are tough, but I knew it was something you walk through and you will come out the other end okay and perhaps even stronger as person. This time, I dread it.

This post is not supposed to be about that, but rather how I've never wanted so bad to have one more chance to walk past the lake, over the dam, past the bison compound, through downtown Minnedosa with dad and talk with him. Ask him for his thoughts. What would he do? Because I have no idea. Not one. I have nothing. I don't have things he has said to cross-reference. I was 15 when he unexpectedly died. I wasn't asking him about these things. I never got to really talk about dating or marriage or life choices or careers.

Great. I just cried in the middle of this Starbucks.

The best I can guess as to where he may point me is something like the tried and true Psalm 23.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
For you are with me;
Your rod and your staff,
They comfort me."

I know it was words like this that got my dad out of one the darkest times in his life. I trust that the words hold true of the Lord being my shepherd. Even if I'm a turkey-faced sheep.

To close this post, I am going to quote a song like I do every time, but this one is my dad's favourite hymn. It comforted him and it comforts me.

"I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

  And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
  And He tells me I am His own;
  And the joy we share as we tarry there,
  None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

  And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
  And He tells me I am His own;
  And the joy we share as we tarry there,
  None other has ever known.

I'd stay in the garden with Him,
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

  And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
  And He tells me I am His own;
  And the joy we share as we tarry there,
  None other has ever known."

- "In the Garden" by Charles A. Miles

1 comment:

Melissa Lanyon said...

Your post was very moving. Thank you for sharing <3