It’s Father’s Day – Just Relax and Go With It

Venus - a good listener.

Venus – a good listener.

I woke up to an overcast day.  It’s a shame really, this is one day that I would have loved to see sunny and bright.  Thoughts flow through my mind about my father-in-law, my father, my own husband.  The memories: my father-in-law with his ever present pipe clenched between his teeth, rocking with my eldest son, puffing away on his pipe while he recited, “horsey, horsey, don’t you stop….”  My own father playing  cards at the kitchen table, slamming down his hand to win the game – we changed the name of Canasta to Ca-nasty just for him.  Then my own husband …

I see him in my mind, at the school across the street from one of our earliest homes, the three kids in tow.  Teaching the youngest to ride his bike, trying to prevent the eldest from jumping off a climber that was too high, all the while attempting to control our whirling dervish of a daughter.  I picture him at our dining room table giving my eldest son and his first serious girlfriend the “talk” about the birds and the bees – unfortunately, animated speaker that he was, Kevin also used hand gestures.  Funny, it was so funny.   I remember how excited he was to take our daughter with him to the UK.  Granted it was for a funeral and under sad circumstances, but he so wanted her to meet his family.  Then there was the youngest son who watched and observed how the elder two fared trying to get around their father, he’d try to outsmart his old man – but it never worked.  Kevin would always laugh saying, “What a rookie.  He has no idea about most of the crap I did when I was a kid.”

Our kids, his pride and joy – they put us through the rigours of parenthood, the highs and the lows, the pleasure and the pain.  As they got more independent and less receptive to his guidance and instruction (the kids might call this interference) he’d turn it up a notch.  The conversations could be quite stimulating, and in our house you either stood up for yourself or got steamrollered.  The kids learned to challenge assumptions and defend positions, how to debate and how to communicate. That’s the legacy of having Kevin for a husband and a father. Their father was not passive when it came to anything in life.  Even as his health was failing, his mind was not.  As he got frailer, he took on an oversight role.  When anyone was doing anything Kevin would have to supervise; it slowed progress down immensely since he would chatter incessantly – a 20 minute job could take hours.  Actually, that last statement applies to when Kevin was healthy as well.  He simply loved to talk.

These were the types of thoughts that I woke with today, on Father’s Day.  On this day last year he still was my Kevin, no idea that he had lung cancer.  A year ago, the phone would be ringing and he would get that contented smile, knowing one of the kids was calling to chat.  The food would be purchased and he’d be double checking to make sure I had everything for an incredible meal.  Then he’d take his coffee and go sit out on the deck, I’d join him, and he would reflect on how great life was.  That’s where I am headed now, to the deck, cup of tea in hand.  I’ll have a little chat to no one in particular, perhaps with the statue of Venus, a Father’s Day from years past.  I will try and count my blessings, and let love be the order of the day.

For Better or Worse

It’s Father’s Day tomorrow, what does that mean to me now?  Actually, it still means the world to me.  Kevin, my husband, may be gone but because of him I have three beautiful children.  Like my husband, my own father is gone and has been for years, but for him I wouldn’t be here.  Father’s Day and Mother’s Day remain special and dear to me.  Without those that have lived and breathed and birthed us, where would we be?

So what to do?  It’s Father’s Day Weekend and the first without Kevin.  Needless to say, the lead up has been unsettling.  It’s an odd thing but on occasions like this the loss is twofold; the source or the reason to celebrate the occasion is now gone, and consequently, I’ve lost the celebration itself.  Both days in our house, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, were days that were underscored by love.  These are days when a visit or call from one of the kids reinforced the strength of the family.  The calls and visits always came, never begrudgingly, always genuine.

Nobody knew how to have a better time than Kevin, and the kids knew this would always be a good day.  Like every occasion where he could be the centre of attention, this was big.  Leading up to the day, he’d always say (as he did at Christmastime as well), “Don’t buy me anything.  I don’t need a thing. Don’t waste your money.”  Within an hour or so of making these statements, he would follow up with, “But, if you’re going to get me something, then buy me ….”  This list would grow exponentially over the few days leading up to the occasion.  It drove us all nuts because the things he wanted were never easy to find.  He’d want an obscure CD or DVD that no mainstream store would carry.  It could be purchased online but there was never enough lead time for delivery.

Then there was Father’s Day dinner.  This either went one of two ways.  Either we had a meal here at the house of his favourite foods (lobster, he claimed, was transcendent); or we’d go out for a meal to his favourite restaurant, an excellent steakhouse at the local casino – costly but guaranteed to deliver.  At the end of the day, he’d sit on the deck and reflect on how great his life was.  He truly was a grateful man. So many times he’d marvel at the fact that he was where he was in his life, at his accomplishments.  He’d often say to me, “Honey, if I die tomorrow, I die a happy man.  I’ve had a good life.”

He did have a good life.  He had good friends and a family that loved him to pieces.  Fortunately, I am left with those same friends and family members.  They’ve been especially kind to me as we work our way through this month.  I am a little morose, no doubt about it.  This year it’s hollow, there is no pleasure or anticipation, there are no preparations underway, no hurried purchases trying to find the one thing that might surprise him.  It was a game and we had fun playing it, but this year we can’t.  So it’s Father’s Day and it is special still.  It is a different kind of special this year, far more thankful and reflective, very sad but still needs to be recognized for what it is.  It is a day where we say thank you to the men that have shared and shaped our lives, for better or worse, until death do us part.