Today is Father’s Day. But I’ve never been one to get excited about what I have always considered a trivial holiday. Hell, should my family forget to mention it, I doubt I would make a fuss. In fact, I’m sure I wouldn’t. But this year is different. This year is one in a series of holidays which I am without my father.
We had been estranged for many years - only in the last five or six having reconnected. Though we did our best to make the most of the time we had, there were still numerous unresolved issues between us when he died. But they were unresolved because we agreed to let those particular sleeping dogs lie. So I suppose I should say that our issues were unresolved by design - a wound which had closed enough to ignore. But after he died, I had to ask myself if that had been the right thing to do. Should we have talked about what had happened? Should we have revisited those painful events? Did my father die still needing closure? These questions plagued my thoughts for weeks. In the end, I came to the conclusion that closure is not necessarily reliving old issues; it doesn’t mean picking at the past until it hurts. It means having the ability to move on. And that is what we had done – started a new chapter and closed the old.
Just before I sat down to write this, I took a long look around and the house felt as if it was missing something. At first I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. The day had been quiet and uneventful. Being Father’s Day, I chose to relax and spend my time sitting on the back porch. I was alone for the most part. But I didn’t mind. There are times when I need to be alone; no voices other than the one inside my head demanding my attention. Luckily, today even that voice remained quiet. The scenarios I play out in my inner theater can be irritating when all I want is to have some peace of mind; even if that peace is not to last. But today I had no problem emptying my thoughts.
The sun set and the crickets and cicadas began kicking up a racket, telling me I had better get inside before the mosquitoes realized I was there. So I headed into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Yeah, I know. But I have always enjoyed coffee at night. It was then I realized what was out of place. It was barely 8PM and the countertops were clean, the dishes put away, and the lights were out. That may not sound as if things were out of place, but they were. Over the past few years, though I have held on to my apathetic attitude toward Father’s Day, it has been customary for my father to come over and visit for a while. I’d buy him some small trinket – nothing extravagant - and we’d sit around and chat until it was time to eat. Afterward, he was usually tired and didn’t linger for more than another hour before going home; typically, around 8PM.
My wife and I would wait a few minutes and chill out for a bit before cleaning up. But tonight there was no need. What little cleaning there was had been done hours before. And the spotless kitchen was a stark reminder that he was gone. Once again, I wondered if I had done right by not talking with him about what had caused our estrangement. But then, that would be looking back, wouldn’t it? If I have learned one thing from the short time I had him back in my life was that life can only be lived in one direction at a time. Choosing to move backward only forces you to cover the same ground twice. As for me…I would rather explore new ground.