Thoughtful Thursday

Dear Blogary,

Dear, dear Blogary. I’m warning you, I am feeling very sentimental today. I just told Rob that I was having a hard time today, and before I could get out why I was having a hard time – I started crying. Sobbing, actually. These emotions have come over me unexpectedly.

Why the sudden emotions? My dad. Today is May 13, 2010. Today is my Dad’s birthday. And, today my Dad would be 82yrs old . . . if he were still alive. My Dad died in February 1994, over 16yrs ago!

In our dorm room with my best friend (right) and my niece, Shannon (car seat). November 1987

So, is that it? Is that why I am feeling sentimental? Nope. This Saturday, May 15th, my oldest niece (and my Dad’s first grand-daughter) is graduating from college. She was born the year I started college, and now she is finishing college. My Dad was around when she started, and it brings tears to my eyes to think he is not physically around to see her graduate. At the same time, I can’t stop myself from grinning, as I look at the picture of Shannon, as a baby, which was taken during first quarter of my Freshman year.

Ok. I just checked my cycle calendar, [What. You don’t have a cycle calendar? It’s like a pass to be cranky. *kidding*] and based on the cycle calendar, the emotions I am having are not being triggered by hormones. Dang. So much for using hormones as an excuse to buy some Ben & Jerry’s later. Wait. I can be an emotional eater, too! I digress . . .

My Dad was raised just outside of Boston, MA. His accent was thick, though having lived in the South for over 20yrs, it may have lessened a bit. He always answered the phone saying, “Yell’ow?”; and, he had a way with saying my niece’s name, Shannon. He rarely said “Shannon”. Instead, my Dad would say, “Sha’nnn’onnn Elizabeth” in his thick accent and deep voice. As I type, I can hear his voice in my head.

So much has happened over the past 16yrs, including my marriage and the birth of my two boys, one of whom is named after my Dad. As Shannon gets ready to graduate, days after my Dad’s birthday, it doesn’t surprise me that I am overcome with sentiment. This is a special time in her life. But, being that she is the first grandchild in our family, it makes it all the more sentimental for us – her family.

My Dad, Summer 1993

My Dad would be 82 today. 82. That is no spring chicken. I haven’t a clue what he would look like now. His younger sister is still alive, thank goodness. I suppose I could look at her and get an idea of what my Dad would look like today. Honestly, he looked older than his natural age, in part because he smoked. So, he would probably look old. The picture, to the left, was one of the last pictures taken of my Dad. It was taken before the age of digital cameras, so the quality is lost a bit with the scanning. I believe the picture was taken the Summer (1993) before he died. Crazy.

If you’ve lost a loved one, you know the sense of ‘loss’ never dies. And, you know the pain eventually subsides. Though in the midst of the death, it seems the pain will go on forever. If you haven’t lost a loved one, you don’t get it. And, I am not trying to be disrespectful. You just don’t get it. I didn’t get it either. My friend’s brother died, and until my Dad died – I didn’t understand her grief. But, that friend was one of the most supportive friends to me when my Dad died.

My Dad and I, Junk food buddies. (1989)

To the person who has yet to experience loss, it is uncomfortable to deal with the sadness of someone else. The emotion is an elephant in the room, and you are unsure how to comfort and confront it. Take it from someone who has been on both sides, calling out the elephant in the room would be appreciated by the person suffering from the loss. Don’t tip toe around – call it out. Trust me, the person who is grieving will then take the reigns. In my opinion, when grieving, you really just want someone to listen, even if it means s/he will hear the same story over and over again.

Sha'nnnn'on Elizabeth and I

Oh Blogary, I didn’t mean for this to take such a somber turn. I miss my Dad, that much is true. And, perhaps because Shannon is graduating on Saturday, his birthday is hitting me harder than normal. The circle of life continues. I wish my Dad were here to celebrate it with us. And, as I watch Shannon grow into adulthood, gah – the emotions come over me again.

Blogary, please bear with me. I am writing to you instead of eating Ben & Jerry’s. You are my therapist, deal with it.

Charlie, Joe and Everett (Lindsey's son), June 2007

My mom used to take care of babies in our home. One of the babies was Lindsey, who is about 4yrs older than Shannon. And, when my Dad would see Lindsey, he would say, “Helloooo Lindsey-loopner.” [To this day, I call Lindsey, Lindsey-loopner.] I have watched both Lindsey and Shannon enter adulthood. And, both Lindsey and Shannon were a part of my Dad’s life. *sob* And, during my Dad’s funeral, Lindsey read a letter she wrote to my Mom, after my Dad died.

My Dad and I

I was 25yrs old when my Dad died. And, as I see both Lindsey and Shannon around the same age I was when my Dad died, well – I don’t know. Today is an emotional day for me. I miss my Dad, and I find it bittersweet to know Shannon is graduating college. I would love to hear my Dad say, “Sha’nnn’on Elizabeth” at her graduation. And, I would love to hear my Dad call out to Lindsey, “Helloooo, Lindsey-loopner!”

In honor of my Dad, I should eat a frozen Snickers candy bar. Those were my Dad’s favorite candy bar (bite size). Wait. Let’s be serious. In honor of my Dad, I should eat two or four frozen Snickers candy bars. My Dad never ate just one. We don’t have any Snickers in the house. Hmm… the grocery store is just around the corner.

I just explained to Joe why I was writing. This led me to explain why I was sad. Joe said, “Well, he’s not dead. He’s in heaven. You’ll see him in heaven.” I hope so, Joe. I truly hope so. In the meantime, I think Ben & Jerry are calling my name, here on earth.

Happy Birthday, Dad.
Congratulations, Sha’nnnn’on Elizabeth!