My dad was a humble man. Well-travelled, well-loved, and simply well lived. Although his successes in life include travelling the world, finding love that lasted near 40 years, and having 6 kids, he never boasted about his life accomplishments. As I now rest in the wake of my dad’s death, I think about how he was a man of few words.
Often times, I find myself exhibiting my dad’s characteristics, especially when it comes to a shortage of words. In the days since my father’s passing, I have been hesitant to share this part of my life with others, even concealing it from some of my close friends. It wasn’t that the grief was too heavy to talk about, but rather that I couldn’t find the words to properly explain how I was feeling.
As the youngest sibling, my relationship with my dad was different than the rest of my family’s. When my older siblings had all moved out, I remained home with my parents. On days when my mom would work, I’d be left home alone with dad. We’d both do our own things, never speaking much except for when we’d share a meal. Words between us were rarely ever needed. Instead, it was my father’s calming and gentle presence that always made me feel secure. It’s funny to think about how the most mundane memories are ones I cherish the most.
When the day came for us to say our final goodbyes, I was eager for words. I felt as though I needed to say the perfect things in order for him to forgive me for the years of lost communication. It wasn’t until after he passed that I understood how wrong that mindset was.
When I reflect on our relationship, it is not the conversations had that bring me peace. Instead, it was his presence. It was being at home and knowing I was safe there with him. It was knowing he was proud of me. It was knowing that he would support me in whatever I wanted to do. It was feeling his love instead of hearing it. It was knowing I would never be alone.
Thinking about adjusting to life without my dad is scary. For the first time in my life, my mom will go to work, and I will be home alone. Although physically, he won’t be there, I still know his gentle presence will always look over me. I know that even now after he’s gone, I will never be alone.
Rummaging through old mementoes of my parents and their shared love has inspired me. I came across one card my dad gave to my mom. She always said that he would never write her long or extravagant messages, but the short notes he did write held so much love. The one card I found read,
“Thanks for making me happy.”
Lucy and Dad, Grad Night
I now know I inherited my father’s minimalistic love language. Knowing that, if I could say one more thing to my dad, it would simply be:
Dear dad, thanks for making us happy. Love, Lucy.