Seven years ago today, my father died. That Saturday, he was making breakfast for my siblings in our kitchen when he fell over dead of a heart attack. He had just celebrated his 52nd birthday.
I never know what to do on this anniversary. My family's attitude about most troubling or difficult circumstances is: buck up and move on. Even in the few days following his death, I felt like no one wanted to really deal with it, to truly mourn or allow a depth of pain to set in. The unspoken mantra was: "it was his time, but we're still here so just keep going." We don't have any traditions in my family for happy memories, so we never started a tradition for this sad one.
But now that I 'own' a part of the blogosphere, I can at least pay some tribute to my dad.
I wasn't very close to him. He wasn't very good at bonding with any of us kids but he was a loyal dad. He came to most of our stuff, which isn't easy with 5 kids going in different directions. I don't think he understood me but he was proud of me. Because I'm the smartest kid, and he was smart. I knew he boasted about my academic achievements to other people, even if he never mentioned it to me. He had high expectations for me, and he was willing to take the time to help me succeed. He thought it was ridiculous when other people didn't notice or reward me for my talents.
When he died, the absolute first thought that ran through my head was that he never got the chance to be a Grandpa, and my dad would have been a great Grandpa. Later, I was sad that he never had the opportunity to get to know my husband. We had only been married 2 years when my dad died and had spent only a handful of holidays together. My family was still working to accept Michael, much less love him for the amazing man he is.
And ultimately, the hardest part about my father's death is believing that he died disappointed in me. I will never forget the look on his face and the anger in his voice when I told him that I loved Jesus, I loved Michael, and I was getting married. He was undoubtedly shocked and sincerely disappointed. He thought I was giving up all the things he appreciated about me - my intelligence, my independence, my career. I understand where he was coming from. I had hoped to have had the time to show him my perspective.
That chance was lost, but other doors have opened since my father's death. My family has been able to see my husband love me, support me, and engage with them in ways they didn't expect. Our marriage is stronger and healthier than my parents' was, which I hope is inspiring. Two of my siblings have since decided that they want to know Jesus and have begun their own faith journeys. I hope that our stories are still far from over, and that as my family continues to grow and change and learn and love, we remember my dad with fondness and learn from his mistakes. Our time is still here. I don't want to waste it.