Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! 

My dad passed away more than six years ago.   This Father’s Day, I miss him a little more than I normally do.  My grief over Amber is still fresh and raw.  One aspect of the grieving process that often catches people by surprise is that frequently, it causes us to relive all the other losses we’ve previously suffered.  Holidays like Father’s Day always intensify the emotions.

Last year, I wrote a piece titled Father’s Day Reflections, and I thought I’d share it again here today:

My relationship with my dad was complicated at times, but I always knew that he loved me, and I have many wonderful memories of him.  His life was shaped to a great extent by his experiences during World War II in Germany, and as a result of suffering so much loss at such a young age, he held those he loved close to him – at times, too close for a daughter who wanted to spread her wings and fly from the nest!   He instilled in me my love of nature – some of my earliest and fondest memories are of long walks in the woods and parks near our home.  He taught me the names of all the flowers, trees, butterflies and animals we’d encounter on those walks.

He worked hard at a job he didn’t enjoy all that much to provide for my mother and me.  We were by no means rich, but he always made me feel like we were.  He fell in love with the Alps after first catching a glimpse of them as an American POW in Bavaria after the end of World War II.  The story he told was of being held captive in a basement with a very small window, through which he could see these beautiful mountains, and even in the darkest days of his captivity, looking at the mountains would give him hope.  He vowed that he would come back to these mountains someday, and he did.  Some of his happiest times were vacations spent hiking those magestic mountains.  He loved to travel, and after taking early retirement, for the next nine years, he and my mother traveled extensively.  He especially enjoyed his travels in the Western part of the United States – every Western movie he’d ever seen came to life for him there.  He would talk about those trips for years to come.

He had a difficult time dealing with my mother’s death in 1994, and his life contracted again.  He didn’t enjoy traveling by himself, and other than his annual visit to the United States, he stayed close to home.  When he became ill with prostate cancer, I wasn’t sure he would want to fight – but he surprised me.  He wanted to live, and he survived.  Then he decided that it was time to make a lifelong dream come true.  He sold his home of forty years almost overnight, and bought a condo in the Black Forest, where he spent the last two years of his life in an environment that he loved.   Having been a life-long worrier, he learned to live in the moment and “appreciate each flower and each butterfly,” as he once told me.  He passed away after a short illness, and knowing how happy he was the last two years of his life was a great comfort to me.

If you still have your father, tell him that you love him today.  My dad had a long, sometimes difficult, but ultimately good life, and I miss his physical presence in my life.  However, his spirit is never far from me.

11 Comments on Happy Father’s Day 2010

  1. Cindy, I love that seeing the ads for Father’s Day gifts and cards bring back memories of Fathers’ Days spent with your dad for you. Seeing these things always made me sad and made me miss my dad – I’m going to try and look at them in this way from now on.

  2. Beautiful posting Ingrid. Fathers Day is such a bittersweet day for me as well. So glad I had a great daddy but sad he passed in 1998. I miss him every day, but especially seeing all the ads of what to buy your dad for Fathers Day and people talking about seeing their dad brings up memories of Fathers Days I spent with my dad. He never wanted gifts really, he always wanted us to save our money and having his family around him was enough. In loving memory of WWII vet and proud American Joseph F. Welch Sr.

  3. Layla, the raw pain does fade with time, unless a fresh loss triggers it again. I’m glad you’re able to celebrate your dad’s life today.

  4. I missed this post last year but so glad you shared it again. You honored your dad with your wise and thoughtful words. Holidays trigger old emotions and given your recent loss it makes this Father’s Day all the more poignant. I lost my dad in 1995 and every Father’s Day brings back a sense of loss. The raw pain has faded and I take the opportunity to celebrate his life and what he taught me about life. It looks like your dad taught you well.

  5. Caren, I’m glad the piece touched you. It’s hard to lose unconditional love, and it’s rare to get it from another human being, even a parent. Your dad must have been very special.

    Bernadette, you’re right – even though it hurts, every time we let ourselves feel our grief, a little bit of healing happens.

    Debbi, I don’t think we ever stop missing our fathers – hope you can find some comfort in memories of yours today.

    Margaret, I’m so sorry about your dad – Alzheimer’s is such a hard way to loose someone. Honoring our dads by celebrating the parts of them that live on in us feels right to me on this holiday (and everyday).

  6. I am glad that you re-posted the story. I apparently missed it last year. I know how you feel about your dad. Thank you for sharing it. My dad passed away in 2007, but I really lost him years earlier to Alzheimers. My dad was a kind and life-loving person…and that is what he passed down to me. Love you Dad!

  7. @Debbi I just read your comment and it touched me to the core. I share the same sentiment as you….I soooo understand, I feel exactly the same!
    Keeping all of you who have also lost your Dads in my heart.

  8. Very touching. Father’s Day is difficult for me as well. It falls less than two weeks from the day of my father’s passing. He s the one person that I always felt understood what made me tick and I miss that intensely.

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. That was a wonderful post Ingrid. It is always hard to celebrate anything when you have had a loss. But that was really well written and it sounds like you were very understanding about how your father felt about things. I think it is terrific that he was so interested in nature and all that it has to offer. That fact shows that he was a good person.
    Have a great day.

  10. Ingrid, thanks for the beautiful story, and the perspective on one of “our” American experiences from a non-American perspective. Learning to spread your wings late is better than never, and I’m glad for you both that you were a daughter who understood his struggles and happy to see him finally find his happiness.

    Every event, every anniversary, brings back the grief, but it also gives you the opportunity to resolve a little more of it each time. My best to you.

  11. Ingrid what a beautiful and thoughtful piece.
    I so understand about how certain holidays can intensify our emotions about other losses….I soooo understand.
    My Dad passed in 2001. He was a constant presence in my life, many times he was the only one I could count on for unconditional love.
    Thank you for sharing your heart and soul with us.
    Your Dad is smiling down right now full of pride!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *