I met my Dad in September 1990. The year I turned 20. When he stepped out of the car into my drive way I didn’t know really which emotion to feel. Trepidation, nervous, fear, love? And he didn’t look at all like I had pictured for all those years. He looked much older than he was. He walked with a cane. He was almost bald and kinda frail looking. And he seemed so well, pale’r.
The summer I turned 22 I packed up my belongings, bid farewell to the only town I’d ever known & moved to this (really) small town in East TN to to live with my Dad. For the first time since I was 2 yo. Turns out, those weren’t the best of living arrangements. What with me being the I know everything, angry, gruff, outspoken, selfish, unapologetic wise-ass “I” was at the time. Lol. Oh yeah… we fought over everything and nothing.
I often wondered… How DOES one pick up so many characteristics of a Parent they’ve never known? Are there that many intricacies in our DNA? I’m not talking hair/eye color. More of… How he pouts. And his facial expressions. How his mind worked. ACK. Thats all ME! Lol!
Fast forward – 1997. I’m at home, cooking, kids running around, animals afoot and the phone rings. It’s my cousin Mark. (RIP) He tells me that I better get up there to my Dad’s. Something was wrong. (don’t quote me)
The night before I had called my Dad and he didn’t answer, which was kinda unusual. He’d had a pretty stressful day so I didn’t call him again thinking he’d probably fallen asleep in his recliner watching his Atlanta Braves play.
I hung up the phone… piled everyone into my car. Drove as fast as I could without scaring the kids. Was out of the car before it got stopped good and ran up to Mark. He tells me not to go in (Dad’s house) because my Dad is gone.
You’re welcome to roll your eyes at my naivety… but I never thought my parents would die. I understood the concept of dying. But your “parents”.
I ran up the stairs and into the kitchen. I remember the sound of my feet running was so loud in that old house. When I got to the living room I just sat down on the couch. My Dad… was dead. He still had on his nasal canula (oxygen) and was indeed in his recliner in front of the TV.
2 days before my wedding anniversary and 4 days before my 27th birthday I buried the Father I’d only known for less than 7 years.
Friday, March 18th would have been his 73rd birthday. I don’t know where you are Dad… but Happy Birthday.