Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Here and Now

I have a box of photographs and memorabilia from my dad that has been sitting in my sewing room for the past year and a half.  It's been there ever since my dad died.

My parents divorced when I was little and I never had much of a relationship with my dad.  After I graduated from high school and went to college, I saw him about 5 times for the next 30 years.  Sad, but the reality of our relationship.

I finally got up the nerve to go through the box last night, and immediately felt tears welling in my eyes and a tightness in my chest.  I learned some things about my father that I never knew, or had only heard bits and pieces about him. 

♦ My dad was a basketball player; a good one.  In fact, his team won a couple of championship games.  He was quite athletic and won the school wide athletic competition in his senior year.
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♦ He was an average student, though he was quite bright.  He kept his report cards from all those years and most of the teacher's remarks seemed to say that he needed to put more effort into his work.
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♦ My father was in the armed services and served as a lineman in the army.  When he died, we received a certificate from the government thanking him for his service to our country. Edited to add: My mother just let me know that the picture in the middle with the flags is my Uncle Gary who served in the Marines.  The three brothers looked so much alike when they were younger.  My Uncle died of a heart attack as a fairly young man.
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♦ His siblings and family were important to him.  Unfortunately, because of his insecurities he often felt left out of things.
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♦ He was sentimental.  He kept cards people sent him.  He had baby pictures of me.   Though I never heard from him, he kept in touch with what we were doing from afar.  I found a newspaper clipping from when I was in college, stating I was going on a mission trip to Spain.  He kept my high school graduation bulletin.   He kept the room service ticket from the hotel he stayed at during our wedding, our wedding announcement and bulletin, and other items from throughout the years.
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I feel sad that we didn't connect more often.  He was one of those individuals who was insecure and unsure of himself.  Hence, he just didn't make the attempt lest he be rejected.  Yet, when we did get together, we always enjoyed each others' company.

I'm glad I do have these few things.  I'm glad that I've been able to get to know him a bit better through this box.  But I'm especially happy that I've been able to break that cycle of dysfunction and tell my children that I love them, that I'm proud of them and what they mean to me.  I'm so thankful that I have a close relationship with them.

I don't want them to look back someday and wonder if I loved them.  I don't want them to try and figure out what my hopes and dreams were.  I don't want them to remember me as a box of  photographs and papers. I want them to intimately know me by the day to day relationship I have with them in the here and now.