Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

This father's day marks the ninth without my dad.

I tend to ignore the holiday when it rolls around--not much I can do. I'm not within grave-visiting distance, and honestly, sadness and missing come in their own time, not according to the Hallmark calendar.

More than half the men I know now are fathers. There's newborns and toddlers right on up to the parents of grown children. (Mostly I know the parents of young'uns, of course; that's just the age I am.) If I think too hard about it, about their age and their kids' age, I compare it to my own age and my dad's, and line up timelines like they're some kind of meaningful statistic. They're not.

One of my good friends, who had a daughter with his wife two years ago, is about to turn 40. I remember my dad's 40th birthday. My mom organized a big "Over the Hill" surprise party at a hotel restaurant, with family and friends. I would've been 8. At the time, 40 seemed so old. At 30, 40-year-olds seem downright youthful. But mostly I remember it was just a lot of fun--a fitting celebration for a good man and a great father.

I don't know what my friend is doing for his 40th, though I wouldn't be surprised if there's a party. When they had the baby, we slowly lost touch. Now I mostly see them when we happen to be at the farmers' market at the same time, and there's about 10 minutes of catching up and a minute of promises to make plans, which never happens. Who knows whose fault that is.

We only got one more milestone birthday with my dad, his 50th. I think there was a party then, too, but things were different. I was a senior in high school and my dad had been diagnosed with terminal cancer a few months earlier.

Ten years ago in August. That's when we lost my dad. I am not sure when I last saw him, anymore; I just remember I wasn't there when he died. I was busy trying to sleep--opening shift at work the next day. My cousin banged on the door for an hour, and eventually my roommate let him in, but it was too late by the time we got to Olympia.

That cousin is getting remarried this summer. I haven't seen him in ages. I remember he wanted my dad to officiate his first wedding, but my dad, a man of strong faith, wasn't comfortable with the role, not being a priest and all. He didn't make it, anyway.

It's hard to say how much losing my dad changed my life. I have a good idea how much it changed my mom's and my siblings', but I was older. But it still hits me at the most random times, as well as the expected ones.

I hope my friends who are fathers get lots more father's days.