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Jun 21, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Happy Father's Day

The First Precious Moment I ever received was from My Dad, the one that is called Make a Joyful Noise, like the one shown below.

We interrupt normal Blog Programming in honor of a Special Day, for a Special Man. I'm sure you understand, but I just can't let this day go by as if it were like any other. Actually, I began blogging shortly after the saddest event of my life, as a sort of outlet and a chance to focus on something positive. In a round about way, this sad event comes back full circle to the blog.

This is a bittersweet day for me. I have my husband to be thankful for, as he is the loving father of my children, and a very supportive husband to me, but I will always feel a sense of loss on this day. It does not seem sufficient to simply call it a 'sense', as it is an utter profoundly real feeling of grief and sorrow. My father unexpectedly died the night before Thanksgiving, last year. So this is my first Father's Day ever without my Father. It was a heart attack, and there was nothing to be done. He was not old at 59, nor was he young. He was plagued by different ailments such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but no one expects the sudden shock of losing someone so dear to you, without being affected by this for the rest of one's life.

The disbelief and the sorrow are the first feelings I had when I got the news.. a moment that is forever burned into my soul that I wish I could seal away forever, complete with its feeling of continued punches to the gut.. That moment of unimaginable disappointment, the regret of not speaking with my dad that day, that complete desolation that still at six months later does not get any better when I selfishly think of all I and others have lost. But I have to think of the spirit of my father, and knowing that he is indeed happy where he is now, at peace, I have to share him with God. I have to come to terms with the reality that no, he will not see his grandchildren grow and prosper; he will not physically feel the hugs and kisses from those he left behind. I have to remind myself as the lump in my throat gets bigger and harder to manage, that my father is watching us now and loving us with all of his newfound strength. I tell myself that he must be watching from above as my daughter brings home her final First grade report card, and he is giving her angel kisses as he congratulates her on her straight A+'s.

I remember that growing up, I persevered in my schooling specifically for my father, for him that I admired so much; he was learned in all things and inspired my own quest for learning. He gave me his approval, he shared his love for words, both English and French, and would leave me inspiring notes in the morning before school addressed to "ma cherie" and other sentiments. He would sneak in a little extra mad money he called it, and he would come home from work with a little extra something he picked up along the way. I was always Daddy's Little Girl, and enjoyed holding his hand in the grocery store even when we both knew I was too old to do so. He would expect perfection, accept less, and love me either way. He gave me a sense of self, taught me to be stubborn, and instilled a desire to be better in all things. He seemed all-powerful, and I did not see him shed a tear until he lost his own father, when I was 12. I remember early one morning hearing him crying, and me asking him if he was okay. He did not mean to wake me, but he couldn't hold it in any longer. I did not know what to do to comfort him but to rub his back. Perhaps he is doing the same for me, now, as I cry for the loss of him. Another time he cried was when my first-born made her way into this crazy world, and I could feel his love and approval, and his rapture for the accomplishment that he knew was mine.

He once wrote to me, "No man can possibly know what life means, what the world means, what anything means, until he has a daughter and loves her. And then his whole life, his whole universe, changes and nothing will ever again seem exactly as it seemed before. And so it is with you." And so it is with you, too, Dad. He later wrote, "No matter how difficult life may seem at times, you have within you the love, the power, the ability, and the knowledge to make things better. You are special. I hope you know that though we will not always be together, I am always here to love you."

My dad was a great man, who dedicated himself to his career after he left the Air Force where he served during Vietnam. He stayed with the Suffolk County Police Department for 32 years, and reached the highest level of the Communications Department as Supervisor of Technical Services and Police Communications Systems Director. He was posthumously awarded with The Commissioner's Career Achievement Award. Congrats, Dad, you earned it!
"For over 32 years, Mr. Gardner was instrumental in developing and supporting
numerous improvements to the communication systems of the Police Department,
F.R.E.S., and other county agencies."

One of the poems that my father and I shared together and were in awe over together was by Dylan Thomas. Little did I know the significance of this poem until the moment he left this earth.
Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

love you Dad, forever and ever more. I will miss you always, but will persevere, for you. -- your little girl.

To my readers: If you still have your own father out there, let this be a reminder to you that this time will come for you also, which is unfortunate. Please try not to have any regrets when the time does come.

When this unthinkable happens to someone, the one thing that they beg and wish for.. is one more chance.. one more hug.. one more goodbye.. Take that chance when you have it and stop putting it off. Time slips away.

(In the following photos, I had recently given birth to my second brat, so I still look preggers here.. I still have not managed to get to my ideal weight 2 years later now, and I think I gave up hope anyway! Dad had traveled from NY to TX to meet his first Grandson, and these pictures are from that visit. My daughter Morgan had taken some of these pictures and I am so lucky that she did, as she brought out the fun side in him. This is not a high quality video but it helped me during a period of extreme grief).

Dad, your love will last me an eternity, and I am fueled by your inner strength. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me, and making me want to be a better person.

I hope everyone out there enjoys this special day if they still have a father figure to honor, and uses it wisely!

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