How I’d love, love, love to dance with my father again
August 26, 2009 | Family
No, I didn’t dance with him that night. It was my prom. He was there to send me off into the night and there when I got back. He was always there. Until three years later, when he left forever.
I often forget that my memories are different from others, especially my youngest brother, who was 6 when Dad died. He’s the one who looks most like Dad, and he knew him the least. How unfair. Yet … it’s unfair and life-defining, no matter the age.
It’s been 25 years since Dad died. A generation. A silver anniversary. Weddings. Births. Graduations. Illnesses. Deaths. Moves. Vacations. Jobs. Retirements.
I’m two years away from the age he was when he died. My son is 6.
I used to see him in my dreams. Now I see him in others. Something in the way my son squints his eyes. The way my husband puts his hands on his hips and takes in a project he’s just completed. (Of course they’re not related. But they have things in common. They would have enjoyed each other a lot. Without either one of them saying much of anything.) A chuckle. A word. The lines in my face.
Once, when I was old enough to drive, I promised to take some friends to a basketball game one night. It was storming, and Dad wouldn’t let me drive. That didn’t mean we missed the game; I just didn’t get to drive. Dad took us. I was mortified, in the way only an eye-rolling 16-year-old could be. He let me be mad. He never raised his voice. (Oh, WHY didn’t I inherit that trait from him?) He picked up each one of my friends, drove us through the night, dropped us off and sat through the entire game in the car in the parking lot. He was at the curb when the game was over, and he took us all home.
He was always there.
Another time, my parents visited me in Nebraska. I worked in a data-processing center (yes, back in the days of punch cards), starting each day at 7 a.m. I was poor. I had roommates. I didn’t have a car. I stood in the frigid cold, waiting for the bus at o’ dark thirty in the morning, freezing my butt off. When Dad was there, he got up every morning in the dark, went outside, started his car and let it warm up. He drove me to and from work in that toasty car every day.
He was always there.
Until just a few months later. Then he was gone.
It’s 25 years since then, and so much has changed. Except one thing. I miss the comfort of knowing Dad was always there.