My Father

I wrote this post many moons ago. I let some people read it and the responses were not good. I didn’t give the people what they wanted. It’s not a proper tribute. This reminds me of how apparently hard I am to understand. Didn’t I write that before? I don’t have the script on how to mourn appropriately? Maybe it’s not something y’all need to read, but something I needed to write. My father would love this post.
I can tell you that in true introvert fashion, in the months following my father’s death, I became emotionally unavailable. My inability to express what it felt like may have disconnected me entirely from people who didn’t understand to begin with. My circle grew smaller again and I wonder if that’s good or bad or just life.

You’d have to know me well or to have read me carefully for years to understand that my father and the man I call Dad, or Papa, are two different people. I’ve had three parents for most of my life.
Again, I tell you, how tightly my ball is wound is complicated.

Lots of people have these fathers who are the perfect sort for Father’s Day cards, what with the stern life lessons and dedication and all, but that was not my father.

My father was FUN.
He was generous, affectionate, honest, charming, and he was FUN. He was gay fun, so my childhood was well-dressed and tastefully decorated. Too many fabulous experiences and people to recount. I do sometimes, but people look at me like I’ve got to be kidding. My childhood was stranger than fiction. Wildly inappropriate or simply unorthodox? He wouldn’t care what you thought. You’d be entitled to your dumbass opinion, but it wouldn’t influence his. He did not give any fucks about that. He swore like a sailor cause he was one.

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I lived with my father from ages four to twelve. I was never treated like a child. I was precocious and he was fawning.

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My father was my biggest fan.

He moved 1800 miles away when I was in high school.

The Past Burned Down in Larry’s Attic. That’s a chapter for you, but the only thing I can say is “Oh well, I never had a childhood anyway,” and “It’s really too bad there aren’t more pictures of my father.”

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There were complicated years. There were silent years.

We had a private relationship — letters, phones, then internet. Outside of family, few people in my life ever met my father.

I could have made him up, this distant father, but I didn’t.

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I don’t know anyone who has the kind of relationship with their father that I did with mine. My father told me many times that when I was born, he felt God had given me specifically to him. For as long as I can remember I have been Daddy’s Little Girl and Mommy’s Little Basketcase. I have felt that all my life. I am much more my father than my mother. I am turning into my mother, somewhat on accident, and also with careful practice. I’ve had three parents to emulate, and I have taken an a la carte approach. It is easier to be Packard-ly,  as though I didn’t get half of each, but more two-thirds Packard. (Which if you know my life — that’s good math.)

Visits from him were rare, and y’all know I had no desire to travel to the desert. Not with two, three, or four kids in tow and certainly not leaving them behind.

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This led to more complexities. Perhaps to the people in his life there, I could’ve been his imaginary daughter. But I wasn’t.

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I talked to my father every coupla weeks for hours and hours. We could, and did, talk about anything and everything. He was expansive, progressive, fluent in his abundant zest for life.

It was his third cancer that took him. And really, it wasn’t the cancer. The cancer was gone, but its complications took away his life long before he left his body.
A bit over a year was provided for feeling and thinking, worrying and praying. We had no apologies to make, no regrets to fuss over. Everything that needed to be said had been said years ago and long forgotten.

In the year leading up to his death, I’d be messaged that my father was dying, that I needed to go to him. Outsiders held strong opinions, sometimes made demands.
They didn’t know.
He did not want me to go to him. He did not want.
Imaginary father and daughter spoke candidly as always.
My father came to the conclusion of “Those people aren’t us,” which I will remember always.

When I conferred his wishes with my mother, she said, “Honor thy father.”

No one can define the quality of a relationship except the people in the relationship. There is no way to convey to you the loss I feel because I don’t just miss a person, I miss an entire relationship.

No matter how imaginary it may have appeared to other people, we had this bond and a clear understanding of one another. I’m wondering how many other children of unconventional parents find truth in that. If you’re out there, Holla.

My father lives on in me, in my kids, in people whose lives he touched with his humor and great generosity of spirit. But I can’t call him. I can’t call him and tell him what a shitty, shitty time this has been. He’d know what to say, though. He really would. He’d say the right thing.

It’s like a safety net gone. That’s really how I feel, like I’m workin without a net. His voice is in my head, but it turns out it’s not loud enough to make me feel better about how I can’t hear it.

When I think of my father, I do think of his brisk stride, change jingling in his pocket. I do think of him whistling to call me home. I remember the funny character voices he did when he read to me, the light in his eyes, his loud kisses on my cheeks. But what I miss is a much longer list.

I see the greeting cards for Father’s Day and think the same thing I’ve always thought, there are no cards for a daddy like mine.

And I miss him.

And #fuckcancer

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About joey

Neurotic Bitch, Mother, Wife, Writer, Word Whore, Foodie and General Go-To-Girl
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85 Responses to My Father

  1. Ritu says:

    Crying… This is a candid and heartfelt tribute Joey 💜

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Tara says:

    I think much of this all the time, but haven’t written it. You have, and now I know I’m not the only one. Thank you.

    No one but us knows what us meant. Fuck the rest of them.

    *hugs*

    Liked by 2 people

    • joey says:

      *hugs*

      I, too, am glad you understand on such a personal level. I feel better knowing I’m not alone, either. Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I am touched.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Tara says:

        I am happy to hear that.

        I have bookmarked. I will re-read….

        “My inability to express what it felt like may have disconnected me entirely from people who didn’t understand to begin with…”

        “It’s like a safety net gone…”

        “When I think of my father, I do think of his brisk stride, change jingling in his pocket…”

        Beautiful writing, too.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Dan Antion says:

    “No one can define the quality of a relationship except the people in the relationship.”

    Nothing speaks louder than that. I am very sorry you lost your dad. This isn’t a place for what people want to read. This is a place for what you want to say – we’re supposed to try and understand.

    Liked by 8 people

  4. orbthefirst says:

    Liked by 2 people

  5. prior.. says:

    Well
    For starters – thanks for a great quote: nobody can “define the quality of a relationship except the people in the relationship”

    Oh that is layered and just so good-
    And we have more in common – my dad was former Navy – had cancer – had my heart swelled with his love, and he had a light in his eyes too – that matched his smile and kindness!

    And I can feel your dad’s kind side and love his classic adidas sneakers in the one photo

    Liked by 2 people

  6. scr4pl80 says:

    Who could not like this? I think you stated it beautifully. My dad passed away over 37 years ago so he never got to meet my husband or my kids. I’m sad about that because they would have loved each other. Cherish your memories!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. loisajay says:

    Who cares what people don’t get, Joey. This is a wonderfully touching tribute to your dad. You look just like him. Do you, ’cause I think you do. There are no cards for a daddy like yours. I love that. That’s how special he was. #fuckcancer. Yup.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. atticsister says:

    Like all relationships it appears you got the perfect Dad for you and your needs. Isn’t it amazing how that works? Feeling a similarly profound loss today and knowing if Dad were available, he’d have the absolutely perfect thing to say to make me feel better just as your Dad would sooth your pain and help you find a better place. Sending hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. baldjake70 says:

    That was beautiful Baby. It made me well up too!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. There are no two relationships that are alike, and if people are looking for Father Knows Best this isn’t the place. Good post, and I think your Dad would have sincerely appreciated your honesty. My father left when I was five, never writing or calling, creating a hole that was never filled, and leaving me wondering what it would be like to have a father that cared. Your father cared – it just might not have been a conventional, Leave it to Beaver, situation. But, in your heart and soul you can find solace because he loved you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • joey says:

      Yes, Judy, he definitely loved me somethin fierce. He was no Ward Cleaver, lol — the idea cracks me up. I can’t even imagine that.
      I’m so sorry you have that hole. Too much of that in this world. Your mother must have done a most incredible job on you. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Benson says:

    I think that is a lovely tribute. No one should judge any relationship; other than their own.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Carrie Rubin says:

    You should be able to pay a tribute to your dad in whatever fashion you choose. Thanks for sharing this with us. I enjoyed reading it.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Norm 2.0 says:

    Thank you Joey, this was such a beautiful tribute. *Big hugs*

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Joanne Sisco says:

    I’m at a loss to find the right word to describe this tribute to your dad – “heartwarming” doesn’t quite make the mark. Your relationship with your dad was exactly how it should have been – special. I understand the hole left behind. Memories are nice but they can never fill the hole.

    My favourite line was “fluent in his abundant zest for life”. That single line speaks volumes!!

    … and yes, you do look a lot like your dad! 💕

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Bill says:

    Wow. Very nice, Joey. I’ve not words, but yours are amazing. I second your #fuckcancer.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. JT Twissel says:

    My father was definitely not fun so I think you were very fortunate. He’s got an impish smile – just like you. Happy Daddy Day!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. bikerchick57 says:

    Oh, hugs, hugs, hugs and much love, Joey. I miss my dad too. So very much on Father’s Day. My dad’s loud voice is something I can still hear in my head, but you are right…it’s not loud enough.
    I could see your dad in you immediately with the sailor photo and in all the photos after. You are definitely his daughter and I’m glad you had such a wonderful relationship with him. It might not fall under “normal,” but what is that exactly? Human relationships filled with love are the best no matter the circumstances or distance apart.

    I’m sorry you had to lose your dad in such an ugly way. #fuckcancertohellandback

    Memories, Joey. Fond, loving memories last forever. ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  18. ❤ ❤ ❤ He gave you the power. More than most can say.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I don’t have words for this. It was a beautiful tribute and well written too.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Luanne says:

    Oh, Joey, what a gorgeous and honest story about your father. I’m so very sorry for your loss. What a unique and loving relationship.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. darsword says:

    I can think of nothing more to say that I send you my hugs. And agreement–Fuck cancer!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. larva225 says:

    Y’all look so much alike!!
    I cannot believe that there is another human on this planet that wouldn’t love and appreciate these words. And if there is? Fuck them right along with the cancer.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Amy says:

    I thought this was absolutely beautiful Joey. I’m sorry that safety net is gone and I wish his voice were loud enough to make you feel better. I have no good words, but I’m not sure there ever are about these moments. I had an unconventional childhood. Probably not similar, but unconventional nonetheless. My dad has never cared about the opinions of outsiders either (a trait that I wildly differ from and wish that I could learn to emulate). It’s very true that that no one can define a relationship other than those who are in it. And #fuckcancer. Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • joey says:

      I recognize your unconventional childhood, and often think that’s why you are so open-minded. We are both lucky to have grown up as the daughters of men who knew who they were. Thank you. Hugs.

      Liked by 3 people

  24. meANXIETYme says:

    Loved this. My brain no worky good these days but you express yourself beautifully and I send you hugs. 💕
    #fuckcancer

    Liked by 2 people

  25. John Holton says:

    Yes, fuck cancer.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. marianallen says:

    I want to give you ALL THE HEARTS. You have said the words: I don’t just miss my mother; I miss our relationship. Also the same with my friend Jane. “His voice is in my head, but it turns out it’s not loud enough to make me feel better about how I can’t hear it.” Those are the words. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • joey says:

      I’m glad this resonated with you, but because it does, I have to give you all the hearts, too. You’ve had a lot of loss lately. I’m sorry you’re missing so many relationships. ❤

      Liked by 3 people

  27. JoAnna says:

    I sure enjoyed reading this. Your father was exciting, witty, and real. I’m glad he passed those qualities on to you. We get to choose the best from our parents, and a few traits by accident. I’m intrigued by this: “He’d know what to say, though. He really would. He’d say the right thing” I wonder what he’d say to you now. I bet he’s proud of you as ever.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Oh, Joey, this is such a freakin great homage to your dad. I love what he told you about you being just made for him. Very few dads say that. You’ve been lucky to have him as a dad and it seems that you carry him along pretty much all the time. He would have loved reading these words of yours.
    Like you, I’m more my father than mother. He was also a lot of fun. I miss him too.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. 16eparis says:

    I am sorry for the loss of your dad… I and many here can relate…

    Liked by 2 people

  30. markbialczak says:

    You guys had your own thing. Which is so damn great, Joey. Special. Unique. Yours. His.
    Now we can bow our heads and shut our eyes and open our eyes and be sad and be happy and say damn, Happy Father’s Day.
    Thanks for sharing the way you can.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. I am very sorry for your loss. Also, #fuckcancer and #fuckanyonewhothinksyourtributewasnotgood

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Ally Bean says:

    A touching story that makes me happy to know you and your father through you. I never talk much about my past because I just don’t want to explain it, but you’ve turned what could be maudlin into something real. And what the heck is a proper tribute, anyway? What people want you to say or what you need to say?

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Your tribute is perfect because it is your tribute and also, it says some pretty awesome things. I am sorry you lost someone who knew you so well.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Anxious Mom says:

    I’ll echo what the others have said — beautiful tribute, Joey.

    I can’t imagine why some people wouldn’t like this, but…people. I’d think your dad would feel honored to see the words you’ve written here. Such a special thing, to have a relationship like that.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. lbeth1950 says:

    I’d have loved a father lkethat!

    Liked by 2 people

  36. kirizar says:

    I had a similar experience of a sort, but only in the dying. I could not go to be with him—not because he didn’t want it—but because I could not take my son nor could I easily leave him with anyone for that long a time. I called him at the hospice where he lay dying, but still, not as fast as the doctors expected. We had incoherent phone calls that ended too quickly and were ghosts of phone calls past. He was a quirky, solitary, gregarious loner. He laughed and yelled with equal fervor and made those around him do the same. I think it honors them to remember a father for the good they do, but also, for who they really were. No pretense of perfection, but an honest acceptance of a flawed individual whom we love anyway. Even when they leave us. #fuckcancer

    Liked by 2 people

    • joey says:

      I love that — “an honest acceptance” YES. Thank you very much for sharing. I, too, had some incoherent phone calls. Now, of course, I look back fondly, wondering how much of his spirit was still here. ❤ Thanks again.

      Liked by 2 people

  37. Laura says:

    I’m so glad you put this post out there, Joey. There’s a power in honoring the truth of your relationship, and it sounds like your father valued that above all else. Yes, #fuckcancer, but also #fuckotherpeoplewhodogonyourtruth. Love this, girl, and love that you had this remarkable relationship in your life.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Matt Roberts says:

    I’m glad this got posted. ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  39. This is a moment of silent respect.

    Liked by 2 people

  40. Reblogged this on Kindness Blog and commented:
    Touching x

    Liked by 2 people

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