Happy Father's Day to everyone out there. I love Father's Day. My dad has always been terrific. I couldn't have asked for better growing up. Whether it was camping trips, homework or putting up with my bullshit, he's always done it and usually with a smile. I'm lucky.
I know not everyone is as fortunate, of course, and that's a real shame. I partially understand. I've been away from my dad for 7 years now, courtesy of the Air Force. You'd think it gets easier with each passing year but it doesn't. As a matter of fact, it gets harder.
Today is particularly difficult for what seems to be a multitude of reasons. It's another year away from the family. Linda happens to be in NJ visiting them for 2 weeks and I feel like I'm missing out on all of it. What may be the biggest reason of all is that it's June 20th. A day of little significance for most people. June 20th was my Uncle Tommy's birthday. Another wound that never seems to fully close. I hate June 20th EVERY year but the fact that it coincides with Father's Day this year makes it worse. I'm already feeling melancholy and then I've added the impact of the loss to my mood as well.
It's not all about me though. It's hard for everyone in the family, not the least of which are his children. I simply don't think I can imagine, for one moment, what it's like to lose a parent. We all go through it eventually, but always hope that the parent lived a full and prosperous life and at the very least, is not ripped away from us unexpectedly.
My father said something profound about life and loss. I don't have the verbiage so I'll just explain it. Our life is like a tile mosaic. Each person, memory and instance is a tile. As we lose people, the tiles are taken away leaving holes. When someone is taken suddenly and unexpectedly, the tile is torn from its place leaving a hole that is jagged and unclean. It's harder to look at that rough spot.
That is what my family lives with every day. Some days it's easier than others. Some days it's especially hard. Today is one of the latter. I miss my father and my Uncle Tommy both, but each in their own very unique way. I love them both deeply as well. I'd give anything to be standing around the barbecue with both of them again. To laugh when Uncle Tommy blows up the front lawn with fireworks and scares the shit out of all of us who somehow didn't notice that the six-foot-one firefighter went missing. I remember in the days before cell phones, it was nearly a contest who could get who in the pool more often with a beeper on his belt (and count the beepers that had been sacrificed to the pool throughout the summer). To watch my dad, an only child, revel that the "in-law" part of the title "brother-in-law" never seemed to fit. And when the third Musketeer, my Uncle Charles (Uncle Tommy's brother) was in the mix is was just mayhem, but always hilarious. Just to see the broad shouldered man with a broader smile walk in through the door as he had every holiday of my life. Or to hear my Dad look up from the morning paper, over his reading glassess and say "Good morning, boy" when I announce my entrance with a "Hi pop." Watching my parent tease each other mercilessly and still laugh hysterically after 39 years of marriage.
Some of those I'll get again. Others are to remain memories. The former is what keeps the latter from truly breaking my heart.
For those of you who are fathers or are around yours, enjoy them not just today, but every day.