Remembering My Father: Facing Reality

It doesn’t feel real. This event is the kind of thing I would have nightmares about, waking up in a cold sweat. Yet I feel this heavy pain; I pinch my skin and this is real.

I envision him still sitting at the table outside, reading the paper. Watching my cat jump up to sit on the exact spot of the newspaper article he is reading to get his attention, then turn around to wave her tail in his face. Dad would sigh, resign to her demands, give a few strokes along her back, then move her off the table so he can continue reading.

I wake up, come out into the dining room, and see him at the table with coffee and his newspaper, quietly reading while the news plays in the background. I can smell the aroma of his hand moisturizer, shampoo and coffee fill the air. It gives me a feeling of warmth and comfort, knowing I am safe when he is around.

I can still recall the sensation of kissing him on the cheek, wishing him good morning-the prickly feeling of his beard on my lips, the wrinkles on his cheek, the wispy light feeling of the hair on his head. The heavy yet bony structure of his shoulders and back as I hug him. The rough, callused nature of his hands after numerous years of hard labor, yet can provide a gentle squeeze of my hands.

The many discussions about life and future: Some in the car, others at the house, overlooking the yard under a clear warm evening sky. Jokes, laughter, learning more about each other. His face when he was at any events for my accomplishments. He made it a point to come to my art show last year, despite having to travel and with Thanksgiving right around the corner. His interest in my art; He usually asked questions about the process or concept behind them, and I could see it in his eyes that he enjoyed my art work.

The facts don’t seem real. I can exclaim that he died, yet in my mind I cannot fully make the connection. When I say those words, it is as if someone else is speaking. I can say what has happened to myself, what needs to be done, what may happen from here, yet it doesn’t feel like I am talking.

But I will go down to their home tonight, and the table will be empty. His papers unread. Absent of his presence. I will be left with nothing but the memories and sensations that will fade.

I miss him so much. My life, my family’s life, will never be the same. We lost our rock.

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