Thinking of Dad & How I Know He’s Still Here
Today is kind of a hard day – today I’m thinking of Dad. It’s been eight years since my dad passed, and his loss left a hole in my life that hasn’t quite closed. Perhaps it never will. Certainly, it’s not as hard to be without him after all this time, but I miss him all the same. And so does my mom. And my sisters and their kids.
My kids are a different story. Our two oldest are my husband’s kids from his first marriage. They met my dad but didn’t have much of a chance to get to know him. My little one … well, I got pregnant eight years ago at almost the exact moment that my dad died. At least that’s the way I like to think of it. Thinking of Dad being somehow connected to my son makes sense to me. Like a part of him is in my kid, so he’ll always be with us.
Although they’ll never know each other in this world, somehow I think they know each other. First, in my entire family, there are nothing but girls. My boy is the first and only boy child in the family. I know I could explain this through a simple look at X and Y chromosomes and how chance determined the gender of my child. But I think it was my dad. How he would have loved having a little boy in the family!
From my son’s earliest days, I would show him pictures of family members who lived far away, including my mom and sisters and nieces and brothers-in-law. I wanted him to know them, especially since he didn’t have the chance to see them very often. My dad’s picture was in there, too, and from the very start, while he would guess at who the others were, he always knew my dad. Somehow, without being taught, he even called him by the Chinese word for grandpa. I didn’t even know he was doing this until I was talking to my mom on the phone one night and told her what he called him (because I thought it was cute), and, without missing a beat, she told me what it meant.
We don’t have a ton of pictures of my dad around the house, but he’s here. My little guy asks about him frequently. He wants to know what he liked to do, what his favorite foods were and what I remember about him. We talk about him like a close and familiar friend, not like a mysterious stranger who lurks about in books and pictures. That’s what amazes me. I never knew either of my grandpas, and they always seemed mysterious to me. To my son, Grandpa is just Grandpa, as if he’s known him all his life. He even asks me when was the last time we saw him. Because, in his seven-year-old mind, he knows that he’s seen him.
I see my dad in my kid all the time. Sometimes it’s an expression on his face or a simple gesture that’s just like him. Sometimes I’ll post a picture and one of my sisters will comment that “he looks just like Dad” in this one. Sometimes, he throws his head back when he laughs, with mouth open and eyes full of mischief, just like my dad. He’s smart and likes a good joke just as much as he is particular about how he wants things exactly the way he left them. Just like Dad.
As we were talking last night before bed, I told my son that we were coming up on eight years since Grandpa died. I asked him, if he could hear you, what would you want to tell him? Here’s what he said …
I’m sorry you died, Grandpa. I hope that it wasn’t painful. I’m sad that I never got to meet you, but Mom tells me about you. I hope you’re having a good life now and that you can be happy and not sick anymore. I miss you, and I love you.
So, yes, today I’m thinking of Dad. There’s so much more that I could say, but I think I’ll just leave it at that.