Father’s day has come and gone. I didn’t do anything during this day. I Didn’t buy anyone presents. Didn’t spend any time writing or crafting anything. Nor did I really remember or think of anyone. I read the posts that popped up in my Google Reader feed and on Twitter, but that’s about it. No special connection or memories resurfaced. At least, not until I read this brilliant post by Julie Summerell.
It’s not that I can really identify with the loss of a parent in that way, but it did help me change my way of thinking about the day and remember something else entirely.
See, I don’t know my father. Never have. Probably never will. I don’t feel like meeting him either. He’d be just another stranger. A stranger of the same blood perhaps, but does that make him important all of a sudden? To some it might, but to me it doesn’t really matter that much. This might sounds cold, but hey, life’s ice-cold sometimes.
Instead, what it reminded me of was the reason why I don’t miss this mysterious stranger. To me it never felt like there was anything missing. I never wondered about my lack of a second parent as a kid. I could go the typical route of how wonderfully my mother full-filled both roles completely, but that’s not what happened. My aunt came over and a lot when I was a kid, but she didn’t fit the father figure profile either.
When I was a kid, there was a father figure of sorts. There was a guy who took me places. Amusement parks, movies, theaters, you name it. Not just me either, my mom, aunt and grandmother too. Thanks to him, we went to the Efteling every year, rented tons of games, traveled to France for a summer. I still remember all the trips we took by car, just driving around, getting lost and trying to find out way back.
There are so many good memories that simply come from the kindness of this man. The stories don’t just end with us. He helped organize entire festivals in his area, did a lot of things for co-workers… I’m sure there is more he has done, but I was young at the time and a lot of the memories have faded away. The last few years that he was around, I didn’t have as much contact with him as I used to have, which doesn’t really help all that much.
This is the last picture that was taken of him that I’m aware of. It’s hard enough finding any photos with him in it. He was always the person behind the camera. He wasn’t family, so he took the family pictures. To me, the man was family. In a way that’s much more important than blood.
It took me a very long time to get over the fact he passed away. It wasn’t a good time for me when he did, and life didn’t give me the time and space to deal with it as soon as I would have liked. I had just moved out of my mom’s place, not on good terms. I had a job I couldn’t stand… and then this suddenly happened. It hit me, hard.
I remember moments where I thought I could ask him about something, or ask for his help to move things since he was the only person I knew with a car. That line of thought would always be met with a feeling of pain, then guilt at having taken his presence for granted. I regret never having thanked him for all that he’s done. I never even thought of him as a father figure until long after his passing.
I can’t say I believe in an after-life of any kind. So I don’t feel like I’m in the position to say that he’s gone to a better place, or that he’s looking down now seeing everything is all right. What I do believe however, is that he is remembered fondly. Not just by me, or even just by my family, but by everyone that has had the fortune of meeting him. He was more than just anyone to a lot of people. Someone you could rely on no matter what.
Who needs a father by blood if you can have someone like this by memory?