I lost my Dad one week ago today.
In reality, I probably lost him the moment I began transitioning from a little girl to a girl. He loved and protected me but I never quite met the measurements he crafted to be a perfect daughter. He wanted me to be tougher, athletic, and perfectly behaved. I mastered the ‘perfectly behaved’ part at a very early age. I answered the phone most appropriately for a family residence…. except I don’t remember any of my friends answering their phone this way.“Jones Residence”
Or, when my Dad or Step-mom would call out for me, I’d urgently stop what I was doing, run toward their voice and loudly but respectfully replied, “Coming.” These are just simple examples of my obedient behavior.
Consistently I remained respectful, non-confrontational, and eager to please my Dad so that he would see I was still his little girl. But those day’s left and the new ones became bleaker than I could’ve imagined.
I left my Dad and Step-mom’s home at 14-years old with no shoes. One day I’ll tell the details of that story. I didn’t’ care where I ended up, I just knew it couldn’t be there.
Fast forward nearly 30 years later, we are okay.
My Dad and I reconnected and he kept his word in 2001 after my mother’s murder when he aked, “Can we let bygones be bygones?” Without question my answer was yes.
I could count on two hands how many times we spoke on the phone and we text maybe every few months. It wasn’t the kind of relationship little girls dream of but it was good enough. Absolutely good enough for me. Why? Because I learned, in my early twenties that it’s easier to let someone go than kill yourself trying to mold them into what you want them to be and that some relationships don’t need to be more than what they are.
I learned that love shouldn’t have to be earned. As time went on, my shell became firmer and I really developed a belief system that the presence of bad relationships, regardless if their blood or not, are not welcome .
Eventually my accomplishments finally won my Dad’s respect and his growing age provoked a softer, kinder version of himself.
In 24 years, he visited me four times. My boot camp graduation, when I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Tennessee, and shortly after Ivy was born. This year was his fourth trip. I couldn’t have known that it would be his last. My yearning to see him was so strong that something provoked me to purchase their airline tickets. It was my most favorite time with him…. Ever.
He was the hardest working human I’ve ever met. The reverence his peers, subordinates, and leaders had for him is immeasurable. The problem is that the copious amount of work was too much and he was utterly exhausted. His quick and miraculous victory with throat cancer did take a toll on him and he never really regained his strength or health but in his mind it was adequate enough to go back to work in record time.
Now he was in Arizona,
relaxing and experiencing true rest and sunshine. I noticed he was bleeding near his hairline and his scalp was terribly dry so I made a natural concoction with oils and gave him a scalp massage (which he loves), I cooked for him, and we reminisced. He told me stories I never knew such as his perspective of my Mom and his custody battle over me. Or how we ate breakfast at the bowling alley every Sunday and how I’d want more because it was so good. Shocking, I know.
My only regret is something I couldn’t control anyway and it’s that he didn’t have more peace and joy toward the end of his life. He never experienced retirement. He never found substantial freedom from work and stress.
His favorite colors were orange and turquoise so Me and my girls did a balloon release in the beautiful Arizona desert just before sunset. Attached was a short written letter. Maybe, just maybe he was there in the tranquil blue sky accepting our love and farewell.
Sometimes a crowd inhibits our true emotions. Sometimes we want to cry like a baby without concern of who it’s effecting. Or speak out loud to the ones who’ve left us because it’s possible they can hear, but most importantly sometimes we just need to do what feels right and not what’s expected of us. Today I did that.
This is life
No one escapes loss or love. The beauty is we can work through these moments with clarity and compassion if we stay present in the moment, allow ourselves to feel the emotions that seem to be taking over, then gently let them go.
Now, he is at rest with infinite peace and joy.
Thank you for my extra tight pigtails when I was little and coordinating barrettes to match my shirt. Although you could see my hair follicles and my eyes were nearly permanently squinted, you took the time to make me pretty.
Thank you for your protection. It was overbearing at times, but I understand now that I’m a mom.
Thank you for learning to let go of some of your learned behaviors in order to care for and respect those that were different from you.
Thank you for teaching me to be tough and resilient and to not take any shit.
You did good Dad because you did your best.
Bye for now, I love you.