My father’s photograph hangs in our hallway. I am horrible at decorating. I did not nail it there. My husband did.
That might not seem terribly odd except I did not ask him to nail up the picture. And … my husband never knew my dad. He had died before I met Richard.
Nonetheless, Richard occasionally references my father. He did so just a little while ago after renting the movie Pearl Harbor.
“This is the kind of movie your dad would like,” he said.
It’s like Dad is alive and a part of our family. Because, well, he is a part of our family.
Clearly, my husband knows what sorts of movies Dad liked because he’s heard stories about him for nearly 15 years now. And Richard loves planes like Dad, which creates linkage.
But it goes much deeper than that. There’s a profound truth about loss and grief in this story.
Mitch Albom put his finger on it in Tuesdays with Morrie. He wrote:
Albom also wrote The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which incidentally, my father read.
It is not a huge leap for those who believe in heaven to think of their parents in present terms. However, I don’t think we expect the relationships to evolve after their death.
It certainly wasn’t on my radar. But as I cleaned out my parents’ home, I learned new things about them, took on new perspectives, and grew through my grief.
When we change, the people around us (and in our hearts) change, too.
Sometimes the change that evolves the relationship with a now-deceased parent is a new baby.
Sometimes it’s a new challenge that shifts our understanding of what one of our parents endured.
Sometimes it’s a new season of life that comes as we age.
Sometimes it’s a national event – think of how one generation compared 9/11 to the previous generation’s resolve during war.
Some things don’t change, however, and I’m so very glad of that. I still sense the love my dad showed me while he was on this Earth. Even without his physical presence, it is an anchor during sad and difficult seasons.
He continues to be a role model, a source of wisdom and a humble example of living patiently with a debilitating illness. The memories of how he navigated life is the stuff I will draw upon all my days. And in that way, he continues to be a part of my life.
I bet you also have very specific ways in which your dad shows up, sort of speak, as an example, encourager or comforter.
Father’s Day is tough stuff. I’m not suggesting we don’t grieve, however, maybe we can take the edge off the day by embracing all of the new reality.
Yes, our fathers are gone, and yes, they also left behind wonderful memories that embrace us to this day.
A key way to balance our grief is using various linking sources.
Digging down into our treasure chest of memories and mementos, we find ways to commemorate our dads.
Another source is our father’s friends or mutual friends. And then there are the children. We may notice that little Olivia has his wide-lobed ears.
We may mine the spaces we walked, retracing steps, or the letters he left behind.
And then there is the winning piece of advice he gave at graduation – that amazingly applies to our career choice right now.
And how he enjoyed the beauty of morning songbirds, and though you aren’t a morning person, now their melodies bring a smile to your face.
Maybe by memorializing our dads for what they left behind and how they continue to impact our lives will take the edge off the day.
At least, that’s what I hope.
A lot of people suffer silently. If this post resonates with you, please share it on your social media pages and offer love to friends and associates may be unsure about what to do with Father’s Day. Blessings to you ~ Toni
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