Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daddy Issues

I've been thinking a lot about my dad lately. There are certain things I've seen here, places I've been, that I think he would have liked. And I think, if he were alive, I'd have bought him one of those ugly woollen golf hats that older men wear here, or maybe a tie with a sheep on it. You have to give a tie for Father's Day, right?

But there's no one to buy a necktie for this year, the same as there wasn't last year. That's part of why I hate these greeting card holidays. They're fine for most people but for quite a few of us out there they're a reminder of what we lack. At the moment, I lack a father on this earth.

I got pregnant after he died. It was, in some ways, a blessing. I needed the distraction. After his death I stopped eating. I lost 20 pounds in two weeks. I hardly noticed. I hardly cared. Pregnancy was a good motivation to start taking better care of myself. But beyond that, it gave me something to focus on other than my grief. And then I had Roo to focus on and, after placement, the grief of placement. But I find more and more lately that some of the things I didn't deal with before are coming back up to the surface, demanding attention.

I miss my dad. I miss him like crazy. I know intellectually that he died nearly two years ago. That he is gone, and he's not coming back. But every so often the injustice of it will creep up. Something will happen where I think, I need my daddy. And it hits me all over again that it doesn't matter how much I need him, I can't have his help.

There are so many things I'm still not accustomed to doing on my own. Decisions I can't make by myself. Things I never learned how to do because I didn't need to learn them. I figure things out when I can. I cried the first time I mowed the lawn. Some things I can't do. Even with a ladder I can't reach to change a few light bulbs in the house. I can change the oil in my car theoretically, but I can't do it in practice.

I hate that he died. He was only 52. When he was first diagnosed, they gave him three years. He told me it was ten. I think he knew I was worried. When it came back, they gave him six months. He got two weeks.

He had the same kind of brain cancer as Ted Kennedy. Sometimes I wonder if my dad would have lived a bit longer if we'd had the same access to funds and treatment that Kennedy did. Maybe so. Life's grossly unfair that way. Brain cancer is grossly unfair. Anyone can get it, did you know that? It doesn't matter how old you are, or where you live, or whether you're male or female, or if you're white or black or purple. Children get it. Old people get it. Everyone in between can get it. If they're lucky, it doesn't kill them. Most of them aren't lucky.

I don't want to stereotype, but statistically speaking a lot of women who have been in my situation (bad relationship, unplanned pregnancy) tend to have daddy issues. That's just not me. The only issue I have with my dad is that he's not here anymore.

It's funny, though, because the fact that I don't have a dad anymore in this life is what helped me to see how important a daddy is. It's what helped me to see how much Roo needed a daddy. Because I had such a good daddy! I'm glad I did. A girl needs a good daddy.

When my dad was a teenager, he didn't ever plan on marrying and he certainly didn't plan on being a father. Then, of course, he met my mother, and things changed. I asked him once how he knew he wanted to marry my mother. When they got engaged, my dad was going to NAU and my mom was going to beauty school in Provo. Most weekends, he'd make the 8+ hour drive north to see her. He told me that one day, driving back to Flagstaff, he realized that it physically hurt him to be away from my mom, and he decided he had to marry her. Isn't that sweet?

My parents had four children in six years - I'm number 4. And I had the best daddy in the world. There wasn't a thing he wouldn't do. He changed diapers, gave baths, detangled messy little girl hair, spooned strained peas into little mouths, searched for lost baby dolls and hair bows, fixed broken toys, and answered hundreds of thousands of ridiculous questions, everything from why water was wet to what, exactly, kilowatts were, and how he made them at work every day. He taught me to drive, helped me with homework, took me to movies and baseball games and dinner. He always saw to it that I was taken care of.

One of the last things my dad said to me, the day he had the stroke was when we'd gotten home and I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating lunch. He wanted to make sure the restaurant had gotten my order right, and that there wasn't anything else I needed. "Are you happy?" he asked. Only when I'd replied in the affirmative did he go upstairs for a nap, with a muttered word about having a headache.

An hour after that, he apparently had a stroke, and an hour after that, he fell asleep on the couch, and he never woke up again, even though I cried and begged and shouted. My mom called 911. I checked his pulse, his breath. The paramedics came. They checked his vital signs. I heard them call out his blood pressure, and I knew then that he was gone. A little part of me died then, too.

I had the best daddy in the world. I wanted the same for Roo. The thought of her not having it broke my heart. When I went to choose parents for her, I knew that her mommy was so very, vitally important, but I was especially careful screening potential daddies, too.

I'd asked Roo's parents to bring their daughter with them when I met them, because I wanted to sort of see them in action. Roo's daddy was so patient with his daughter, so gentle and kind. I was charmed. And then, the first time Roo really met her daddy, the first time he held her, she looked right up at him and smiled. He said hello to her, and there was something in his voice that won me over in that moment, and I knew she was home.

My little Roo has the best daddy in the world. The things that I worried about for her when I was her mommy aren't worries anymore. I wanted her to have good parents like I did, parents who love each other and who treat each other - and their children well. That's what she has. No child on earth could possibly be as loved as Roo.

Because I had a good daddy, Roo has a good daddy. I just wish my daddy was still here so I could thank him.


Susie said...

Oh Jill ~ I am so sorry about your dad. It is really hard to lose a parent, it seems to get harder instead of easier.

I believe that your dad knows about Roo, and knows your thankful wishes for him.


jgirl said...

Jill you had a great Daddy...hands down. I don't envy you...I can't even fathom losing mine. He was a really good guy and I remember him fondly...

AubreyMo said...

I'm sitting here, silently bawling at work.

I love you girl.

I know there's no words I can say to make things better, and there's nothing that you haven't already heard I'll just say this.

You did right by Roo, and I'm sure your daddy is very very proud of his little girl. I'm sure he's aware of you and is watching over you.

Hearing about your dad is so wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Oman said...

What you wrote was beautiful. I admire your awareness and commitment to the important things in life.

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

What a gorgeous memorial to your dad. His granddaughter has been blessed by his influence, through you. :)